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MPs call for doctors to be 'empowered' to tackle female genital mutilation

Health professionals should be ‘empowered’ to make assessments of young patients deemed to be at high risk of female genital mutilation, a report by a parliamentary committee has said.

The Commons home affairs committee’s ‘case for a national action plan’ on FGM evaluated the model used in France - which has much higher prosecution rates for FGM - where young patients are regularly inspected up to the age of six.

The committee rejected routine inspections as a ‘disproportionate response’, but backed a system that ‘empowers medical professionals to make periodic FGM assessments where a girl is identified as being at high risk.’

The French model was criticised by leaders at the BMA’s annual representative’s meeting in Harrogate last week, with London GP, Dr Jackie Appleby, asking: ‘How do you avoid alienating sections of the community?’

But the BMA welcomed the MPs’ assertion that doctors are ‘vital’ to tackle the problem.

The committee also proposes that GPs should question at-risk patients at time of registration, and said there should be clear referral pathways for practitioners.

New clinical codes for GPs, specifically for recording cases of FGM, were introduced this year.

BMA medical ethics committee chair Tony Calland said: ‘FGM is a serious crime and form of abuse that no child should have to suffer.’

‘It is encouraging that the home affairs committee recognises the vital role that healthcare professionals have in breaking the generational cycle of FGM.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • Is it possible to empower our disenfranchised profession at this time,despite the nobility of the cause?

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  • To stop such horrible female genital mutilation, first a national campaign against should be organised (TV, leaflets, Radio..) with the participation of muslim clerics...
    Then lectures in schools to young girls at risk, followed by medical examinations, like in France where it is compulsory.
    Then if Authorities have a real desire to stop such practices, it would be very easy to take actions...
    This practice is widely done, in 10 years of medical practice in London I can say that all women from Somalia have FGM and some others from many African countries even like Ivory Coast or Senegal..

    In my Practice, I post on the wall an advert from an association offering rewards (up to £20,000!) if denounced FGM, no answers..

    It looks like Authorities are afraid to take effective action against..

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  • This is a major issue in some areas of the country with high immigrant populations from Africa and is rightly seen as a priority. However lots of us practice in areas with a very low population at risk and FGM is not an issue we deal with. I have not had a patient with FGM in 12 years as a GP. As usual national policy is being suggested to solve local problems. This approach doesn't work - just look at the Darzi centre fiasco for evidence of this

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