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Live webchat with Norman Baker MP Home Office Minister on FGM. Thurs 6th Feb 12pm-1pm

(60 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 05-Feb-14 22:23:37

Hello

Norman Baker MP is joining us on International Day for Zero Tolerance towards Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for a live webchat.

Norman Baker is Minister of State for Crime Prevention with responsibility for domestic violence, including forced marriage, honour-based killing and FGM.

You can find out more about FGM - what it is, its risks and practices - here.

FGM is illegal in the UK, but it is estimated that up to 20,000 girls in the UK are at risk of suffering genital mutilation, and that more than 60,000 women have already been cut. Despite recent statements from the CPS that a prosecution is close, no one in the UK has ever been charged.

Do read a recent guest post from FGM survivor and mother
Leyla Hussein - 'Making sure my daughter wasn't cut is my greatest achievement' - and a guest post from survivor Nimco Ali on why the government must act to stop more girls being cut.

Both women are co-founders of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organisation that works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from FGM. Their stories are harrowing, but incredibly powerful.

You can also look back at our webchat with Lynne Featherstone, during which she answered questions on FGM in her capacity as International Development Minister

Please do post your questions below in advance or join us live between 12pm and 1pm on Thurs 6th Feb.

Thanks,
MNHQ

Thanks for joining us Norman.

I have worked in schools and other early years settings over the last twenty years and have attended professional training days on child protection. I think I'm right in saying that I've never heard FGM being mentioned in a school, pre-school, or nursery, or during child protection training.

Do you think this situation needs changing in order to protect children effectively ?

Blondieminx Thu 06-Feb-14 08:51:36

Thanks for coming to MN smile

Are you aware of this petition at all, and please could you ask one of your staff to provide Mumsnet with an update today or tomorrow as to what the Education department's response is on this? Whole government support is vital with this issue.

Another question if I may, since the thread is quiet so far:

I understand your department is also responsible for domestic violence prevention. Please could you let us have an update on this Govt report fromlast year regarding the way Essex Police handles DV cases and whether your department is following up to address the concerns raised in the report? As you may be aware, the force was criticised after 4 women died at the hands of their abusive partners/husbands between 2008-2011. As you may be aware, when Christine Chambers was murdered, the killer also murdered the 2 year old daughter. They were both shot, and Ms Chambers's 10yo witnessed the attack but escaped. The IPCC report identified systemic failings in the way DV was dealt with by the force. Does your department have any response to this statement by Women's Aid calling for more police resources to be allocated for dealing with DV?

Thank you.

BarbiesBeaver Thu 06-Feb-14 09:23:20

How aware are police forces of this issue? Do they have training in how to identify, investigate and prosecute these cases? Are there any active Police groups/campaigns looking into this issue?

I would also be very interested in what is being done globally to educate and help irradicate this horrible practise.

OmNom Thu 06-Feb-14 09:26:32

Hello,

How has the landscape changed as regards FGM in the UK, between (say) five years ago and now? Do you think there have been big policy changes, or changes in the way government and statutory agencies approach it?

alicethecactus Thu 06-Feb-14 09:34:40

Hi Norman, thank you for coming in to talk to us,

It's clear that FGM is a very traumatic process that has serious health implications for those subjected to it. I've heard people make the argument that the focus on FGM is disproportionate compared to the campaigning around male circumcision - which some view as equally bad. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this subject, and whether you think the two are comparable?

prupartyfrock Thu 06-Feb-14 09:39:42

If you had to explain to someone who had never heard of FGM, how would you sum it up and explain all the issues around it succinctly?

My problem is that when I talk about something that is important to me and emotive I tend to end up in full on rant mode, which isn't very good for getting your point across!

Thanks in advance.

BeanAboutTown Thu 06-Feb-14 09:43:13

Can you talk a bit about the cultural sensitivities involved with the FGM issue? Obviously FGM is horrendous and unacceptable, but it does feel at times as though the anti-FGM messaging is something that largely takes place between white, European/Christian-heritage people (hope I'm phrasing this sensitively...), rather than a conversation that's happening within the communities where FGM is actually happening. How do we stop this from being just another Guardian-reader do-gooder thing? The truth is, I don't think I know a single family where the girls are at risk of FGM because I live in a very non-diverse area - so I'm not sure what someone like me can usefully do.

nowit Thu 06-Feb-14 09:44:01

Hi there,

Before joining Mumsnet, I had no idea what FGM was.
Why has this become a hidden issue and how can we get it out there and have better, more frank conversations about what is happening to thousands of girls in this country?

ChazMax Thu 06-Feb-14 09:55:16

Hi there,

Can I ask have you had any direct contact with a victim of FGM? And how did their heartbreaking and traumatic story affect you?

Thanks.

CaptChaos Thu 06-Feb-14 09:59:31

Norman,

Thank you for joining us.

My question is.. FGM is a clear act of child abuse. What do the government and child protection agencies do each summer holiday season (which according to Campaigners is the most 'popular' time for cutting to take place) in order to protect those girls most at risk? How does the government propose to educate educators and everyone else involved in child protection in order to protect these girls?

Sorry, 2 questions, but I do hope you'll be able to answer them.

Hi Norman, thanks for coming on.

Can I ask why YOU think no one's been successfully prosecuted for FGM yet? What are the barriers to prosecution, and what is your department doing to erode them? Given that domestic violence isn't a statutory offence, how is FGM defined under the law?

JackNoneReacher Thu 06-Feb-14 10:29:03

Hi,

Would you agree that parents that mutilate their children (or are unable/unwilling to prevent someone else mutilating their children) should have their children removed?

Thanks.

teaandcustardcreams Thu 06-Feb-14 10:33:11

What do you think are the best methods for making more people aware of this issue? If very few victims come forward and unwilling to give evidence - what can we do to help prosecute these cases?

TheGonnagle Thu 06-Feb-14 10:41:20

Hello and thank you for coming to talk to us today. This year we received our mandatory safeguarding training and for the first time FGM was mentioned, albeit under the slightly misleading term female circumcision. I was shocked to discover that the majority of my colleagues were utterly unaware what it entailed and were under the impression that it was similar to male circumcision.
The issue was not fully addressed and it fell to me to really stress the importance of the issue and expand the discussion.
What are you doing to ensure that people in front line contact with vulnerable girls are aware of the dangers, repercussions and issues surrounding FGM?

MoonandSixpence Thu 06-Feb-14 11:07:54

Hello,

Last January Ofsted announced that it would be questioning schools on their efforts to combat FGM.

But according to a YouGov survey in 2013, seven out of ten (68 per cent) teachers said they were not aware that there was Government guidance on how they should be dealing with FGM at their school.

My question is: Do you think that figure would be different now?

I have a friend who teaches at a secondary school in London which has a large Somali majority. She says they know that FGM is a big issue, but never mention it. sad

Misspixietrix Thu 06-Feb-14 11:20:19

I spoke to a Journalist about this subject a while ago. I was from a mixed marriage where FGM is considered as normal as male circumcision in such a community. Most of the Mothers were cut as Children back in their Hometowns and 'didn't see anything wrong with it'. I know from discussions I have had that most don't know it is illegal - they had no Idea. Those that do know it's illegal know they can get round it just by taking their daughter home for a 'holiday' and no one will bat an eyelid. I think Education and Monitoring would be the right way to go about it and encouraging youg girls to speak up and tell someone they can trust. France checks girls under 6 I believe for any signs. Have you any plans to take something like that on board?

woeface Thu 06-Feb-14 11:53:43

Don't schools already have a statutory duty to protect at risk girls under child protection protocols? Why is this not being done, and what plans are there to hold schools to account for failing to do so?

Also, what's the strategy for community education? Misspixietrix's point that many in the community are unaware that it's even illegal is gobsmacking - but it does make me hope that the stats could be brought down dramatically by an effective outreach campaign, community ambassadors etc?

Misspixietrix Thu 06-Feb-14 12:02:12

woeface a 'Meeting' was arranged when Dd was born. To arrange Christening etc amongst other things. Which is where this subject first cropped up. I had to get the Criminal Statute Book from the Bookcase and show to the ChairPerson that it was illegal and the relevant Act etc. I think the point I'm trying to make is. If I had been part of that community too. I more than likely wouldnt have known the difference too and happily have gone along with it. Which is why I think the the Education side of it is so so important.

mousmous Thu 06-Feb-14 12:03:06

hi,
thank you for doing this webchat.
my question is regarding the e-petition, which reached more than 100,000 signatures.
when will this be discussed in parliament and will it be broadcast?

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Feb-14 12:07:03

Hey everyone,

Thanks for all your questions; Norman's just arrived and is setting up now. Just a quick reminder of our webchat guidelines:

1. One question per member plus a follow-up question if appropriate
2. Keep your question brief
3. Don't be disappointed if your specific question doesn't get answered
4. Do be civil/polite. See our talk guidelines in full here.

Thanks all. Over to you, Norman...

Am pleased to hear the petition has reached 100,000 signatures mousmous - all credit to the young woman who initiated that

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:07:43

Hi

It's noon and I'm here. Thanks for joining me.

Norman

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:12:27

JugglingFromHereToThere

Thanks for joining us Norman.

I have worked in schools and other early years settings over the last twenty years and have attended professional training days on child protection. I think I'm right in saying that I've never heard FGM being mentioned in a school, pre-school, or nursery, or during child protection training.

Do you think this situation needs changing in order to protect children effectively ?

That's disappointing. I agree more needs to be done to get messages across in our schools, both to teachers and to children. We had a really good meeting this morning of ministers from different departments and issued a declaration from government which you can see on the Home Office website. Ed Timpson, a minister from DfE was there, and he is committed to getting messages across. His department issues statutory guidance on safeguarding in schools, and he has promised to link this to good quality resources on FGM. He is also taking the matter up with OFSTED, and ministers from different departments including my colleague David Laws from DfE recently had a good meeting with the teaching unions.

Welcome.
It must feel a heavy responsibility at times.
Where do you think we can start with this ?
(not forgetting the important work people have already been doing to raise awareness and take action on FGM up to now)

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