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

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


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.


ESSAKHEL Mon 27-Oct-14 16:12:26

Hi. I made an application form for replacement biometric recidency card two weeks ago. But I haven't heard anything from you. II am travelling outside the UK. And I need the biometriccard to be able to get the visa. It's very urgent. I please let me know for other details. Thanks

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 07-Feb-14 09:33:34

Which, he didn't say "thanks a bunch ", he says thanks for a bunch of questions. MNHQ typically types the answers of the guests.

Good webchat, thank you.

whichdidyouchoose Thu 06-Feb-14 13:47:45

"Thanks very much for a bunch of stimulating questions and for taking such an interest"

That doesn't sound like a MP to me it does sound like one of their Research Assistant's, many of whom happen to be American.

whichdidyouchoose Thu 06-Feb-14 13:41:44

Good to know Norman has ticked one off his to do list, now he's off to the zoo and he is also a closet American in that he thanks us a bunch.

whichdidyouchoose Thu 06-Feb-14 13:37:19

Don't you find it incredible that this practice is generally carried out by women?

Treaclepot Thu 06-Feb-14 13:04:40

Norman, thank you for answering my questions. I think the imans and otehr religus leaders need to actively address the issue, as just a writtennnotice will be ignored, and also a number of the people I know from Somalia cannot read any language well.


Thank you, I hope it's been helpful

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 13:01:09

It's 1pm and I'm afraid I have to go to my next engagement (trying to deal with the illegal importation of endangered species).

Thanks very much for a bunch of stimulating questions and for taking such an interest.

Best wishes


LineRunner Thu 06-Feb-14 13:00:36

I hope you get those declarations.

TheGonnagle Thu 06-Feb-14 12:59:13

Hi Norman and thank you for answering my question. I am pleased to hear that the subject makes you angry, the determination of those in office to see this issue addressed is heartening. (Just got in from work off to read the rest of the thread now)

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:58:59


More needs to be done in religious insitutions (for example mosques serving the somali community) and to get imans and other religious figures to actively condone these practices to men and women. Is anything being done on those lines?

Children need to be told very clearly who to tell and what will happen then otherwise they wont speak up.

Lynne Featherstone and I had a really good meeting with faith leaders from a wide spectrum of religious beliefs. They were all clear that there is no religious justification for FGM. I am now looking to see if we can get therm all to sign a declaration which can be displayed in places of worship.

LineRunner Thu 06-Feb-14 12:58:17

Thanks, Norman. Please keep this up. We need change and we need prosecutions.

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:57:07


Surely it has no place in any society sad

I agree wholeheartedly. We all need to work together - across departments, across local councils, across the voluntary sector, across the communities themselves to get the message across that this awful practice has no place in the UK or indeed anywhere in the world.

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:54:46


Does girl who has been a victim of FGM have to complain or give evidence if this crime ever comes to court?

Well it helps but it's not necessary if sufficient proof exists otherwise. We have recently taken steps to improve the court process for children (driven by sexual abuse cases) so that a child who has been traumatised once isn't then retraumatised by an alien and frightening court process.

JackNoneReacher Thu 06-Feb-14 12:52:59

You say on the failure of prosecutions...

Partly this relates to the unwillingness of children to give evidence against their parents

Surely, especially in the case of a small child who is the victim of physical abuse the evidence of the visible damage is enough?

(I hope my tone doesn't come across wrong here I just feel so frustrated that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are being let down)

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:52:24


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?

If I remember correctly, any epetition that generates 100,000 signatures triggers a debate in Parliament. I would be very happy to see such a debate. You may want to ask your own MP to raise this suggestion in the House of Commons.

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:50:38


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?

As mentioned above, we recognise the need for community engagement and awareness raising, both in the diaspora communities here in the UK and in countries where FGM is common, such as Egypt.

In terms of France, there is a debate to be had about the need to balance the identification of FGM and the highly intrusive actions that would be necessary to identify this. This issue remains open. What my colleague Jane Ellison at the Dept of Health has this week done is to require for the first time the reporting of FGM identified in acute hospitals

Treaclepot Thu 06-Feb-14 12:48:46

More needs to be done in religious insitutions (for example mosques serving the somali community) and to get imans and other religious figures to actively condone these practices to men and women. Is anything being done on those lines?

Children need to be told very clearly who to tell and what will happen then otherwise they wont speak up.

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:45:20


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?

We will be using money we have secured from the EU to undertake seminars with local safeguarding boards and (see above) ramping up the public awareness. But you're right. Personally although I had long been aware of FGM as a concept, it was only when I became a Home Office minister that I became aware of the graphic and horrific detail. It has made me quite angry and determined to pursue this issue.

UnsureOfOutcome Thu 06-Feb-14 12:44:20

There are girls at my son's school (inner-city London) who, demographically, are in at-risk groups. It feels almost impossible from my point of view to do anything to support them, given that I'm making the assessment that they are at risk purely on the basis of race and religion. Is there ANYTHING people such as me can do, do you think, that doesn't risk being grossly offensive? What actions do you suggest members of communities where, one assumes, FGM takes places, should take?

Under number 2 "training for ... teachers" let's not forget all the support staff working in schools now too ?

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:41:43


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?

There is no one simple answer but it is a combination of:

1. Cultural engagement to change hearts and minds
2. Training for professionals in the field, including social workers, the police and teachers
3. Keeping the issue in the public eye (the Home Office's campaigns help in that regard)
4. Securing successful prosecutions both the communicate that the act is illegal (not everyone appreciates this) and also that those who engage in FGM can be held to account for it.

Misspixietrix Thu 06-Feb-14 12:39:21 my experience.

That's encouraging. I think it will begin to make a real difference when we see those first UK prosecutions. Let's hope so anyway.

NormanBakerMP Thu 06-Feb-14 12:38:53



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?


FGM is child abuse and should be regarded as such. Having said that, it is sometimes carried out by parents who mistakenly and tragically think they are doing the right thing, unlike other child abuse. The issue comes down to whether the girl, or crucially any siblings, are thought to be at risk.

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