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Teachers call for more FGM guidance

17/04/2014 Joanna
Teachers require more guidance if they are to address the problem of female genital mutilation (FGM), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said.

At its annual conference in Manchester, the ATL passed a resolution lobbying politicians to tackle the problem and calling for more guidance on the subject for those in teaching jobs and other education staff.

The conference heard that teachers should be on the lookout for the signs of FGM, which include frequent toilet visits and pain when sitting down. They should also scrutinise holiday requests to help identify those at risk.

It is estimated that around 66,000 women and girls in the UK have been victims of FGM, with up to 24,000 girls currently at risk of undergoing the procedure. If carried out, FGM can have serious health consequences and can result in death.

It is common in some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities, and many girls are sent abroad during the summer to have the procedure carried out.

Teacher Helen Porter suggested that talking to parents about the issue could be a way forward for education staff.

Education secretary Michael Gove recently wrote to schools to raise awareness of FGM, providing them with information about the issue and the duties of teachers and other staff regarding the practice.

Mary Bousted, ATL's general secretary, welcomed the move but said more needs to be done to help teachers identify and deal with the problem, the Guardian reports. 

"Whether it's sexual abuse or FGM or physical abuse, or a child in any sort of danger - the important thing is that teachers have a clear way of reporting their concerns, without feeling that if they report their concerns and these concerns are misplaced that they will then be in the firing line."

The issue of FGM has made headlines in recent months after a high-profile campaign by Bristol student Fahma Mohamed, who started a petition to urge the education secretary to tackle the problem. Mr Gove described her campaign as "inspirational".

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801713507-ADNFCR
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