MPs today took up the battle in Parliament to eradicate the horror of female genital mutilation.
They rallied to join two Commons campaigns demanding that the Government do more to stop the barbaric practice of “cutting” young girls.
Outlining their plea for reforms, MPs said: “There is the need for stronger action to prevent the crime of female genital mutilation.” They called for:
Strengthened and better-enforced laws to protect girls — both in Britain and preventing them being taken abroad to be forced to suffer cutting.
Tougher action against parents and guardians organising FGM and doctors performing it.
More education for young girls to help them say “No” to FGM.
FGM to be treated as child abuse and for a review into whether doctors and teachers should have a duty to refer possible cases to the police.
The Crown Prosecution Service to improve its handling of FGM cases.
FGM had been a taboo subject in Britain for decades until the Evening Standard started highlighting the abhorrent practice two years ago.
Tens of thousands of girls in London are believed to be at risk of FGM. Perpetrators of the procedure face up to 14 years in jail.
It is particularly associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.
Now the issue is being debated in both Houses of Parliament with 56 MPs signing two Commons motions on FGM including London backbenchers Bob Blackman, Jeremy Corbyn, John Cryer, Glenda Jackson, John McDonnell, Dame Joan Ruddock and Virendra Sharma.
Health Minister Earl Howe accepted in the Lords yesterday that a “step change” was needed to protect young girls and bring FGM perpetrators to justice.
“The Government is as frustrated as I’m sure you are by the lack of prosecutions,” he told former Labour Home Office minister Lord West.
Lord West had said he had been “completely horrified” by the scale of FGM when he became aware of it as a minister: “I failed in my time at the Home Office to ensure that people were being correctly prosecuted.
“Since then I don’t believe we have done any better at it. Do ministers believe that now we will ensure that we have a series of prosecutions?
“If we don’t we will not stop this vile thing from happening.”
See on www.standard.co.uk