Public sector workers, including those in teaching jobs, are to be given more support to deal with the problem of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is set to announce a range of measures at the Girl Summit today (July 22nd), which will include guidance on FGM as part of compulsory training within public sector organisations.
Teachers, GPs and social workers are to be provided with advice on how to identify girls who might be at risk of FGM and advice on where to go to report concerns.
A small network of community champions is also to be established to encourage volunteers who wish to provide community support in areas affected by the practice. They will act as a link between those at risk of FGM and the professionals who are responsible for girls' safety and wellbeing.
The Personal Social Health and Economic Education Association will be asked to prepare a new briefing for schools on the subject of FGM. Ready for use in the autumn, the briefing will ensure those at high risk are given advice and support.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: "Central to tackling [FGM] are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk of FGM.
"They agree that, without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don't have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they’re worried someone is vulnerable."
The issue of FGM attracted widespread attention following the high-profile campaign of Bristol student Fahma Mohamed, who set up a petition urging the education secretary to tackle the issue.
However, in April the Association of Teachers and Lecturers called on the government to provide more guidance for its members to help them tackle the practice.
Estimates suggest 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM and around 20,000 young girls are at risk of being cut every year.
Posted by Harriet McGowan