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Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Ending FGM Conference – sharing key messages and research

Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid’s recent conference on FGM gave key messages from local research that addressed the impact of local work on ending FGM.

The study can be downloaded below. The key messages from the research and the conference are summarised in the following paragraphs.

We had a very successful conference on FGM on Monday 12th February 2018 at Tally Ho. 60 people attended, with many more wanting to attend but unable to do so due to room capacity. Key messages from the conference & Sophie McHale’s research are:

Nasheima Sheikh – Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid (BSWA)

  • Female genital mutilation is an issue of violence against women & girls, requiring a sensitive and confidential approach.
  • BSWA has delivered work on FGM since 2010, most recently in partnership with Coventry Haven, supporting many women and learning about effective approaches.
  • BSWA & Coventry Haven have recruited and supported 90 Community Champions from 15 different countries help to raise awareness to end FGM.
  • BSWA is developing an FGM Health Pathway to reach out to women affected by FGM.

Rachel Oluyemi & Ashley Mungai– Coventry Haven

  • Empowerment of women is key to ending FGM – the Haven has developed women’s groups from many different communities, changing attitudes and helping to end the practice.
  • Ashley “don’t underestimate the power of conversation” & start from understanding community perspectives on FGM.

Sophie McHale – University of Manchester and FGM Impact Study author

  • BSWA & Coventry Haven, with whom the research was done, have supported 860 women; developed 90 Community Champions; raised awareness amongst 1,964 people from FGM affected communities and trained 3,500 professionals.
  • Social Convention Theory advocates that we must reach a mass of people before a ‘tipping’ point is reached in changing attitudes – the impact study & PEER research shows that this may have  been achieved within the Somali community but more engagement needs to happen with marginalised and newly arriving communities
  • Professionals in Birmingham & Coventry had a higher reporting rate of FGM compared to a decline nationally – an indicator of the success of FGM training in the region, mainly by Coventry Haven & BSWA
  • A holistic approach is required; focus on health alone can result in a move from Type 3 to 1, but not eradication.
  • Work against FGM has to be nuanced otherwise perverse results can emerge – eg the emphasis on health consequences can also lead to a medicalisation of FGM.
  • Community attitudes have been affected to be against FGM in those who have participated in activities through BSWA & Coventry Haven: 83% had greater awareness and 71% would know how to respond to FGM confidently.
  • BSWA & Coventry Haven’s work has had a significant positive impact on the confidence, health and wellbeing of women affected by FGM.

Gill Squires – WM Police

  • Obtaining an FGM Protection Order is relatively simple – anyone can apply – and it is free. See above attachment for guide.
  • Many different criteria can be included to ensure victims and those around them are properly protected. Breach of an order can result in imprisonment.

Fiona Allen – Birmingham South & Central CCG – Designated Safeguarding Children Nurse

  • There are many health consequences of FGM yet health services are not always aware that the underlying cause of presenting symptoms could be FGM.
  • Women are suffering with PTSD, flashbacks, and other mental & physical symptoms but many health professionals are not confident in asking questions about FGM
  • There are legal responsibilities on NHS staff around FGM.
  • A new health pathway for FGM is being developed with BSWA & GP practices.

Materials from the conference to download: