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Female mutilation worry expressed by bishop: CEN 11.02.07 p 4. November 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords, Multiculturalism.

THE GOVERNMENT has been challenged to do more to educate young people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.

The call came from the Rt Rev George Cassidy, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. His intervention came during a debate initiated by Labour peer Baroness Rendell who asked the government about the Metropolitan Police’s efforts to combat the crime.

Lord West noted that the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 made it an offence for women to betaken abroad for female genital mutilation or circumcision: a cultural practice followed in a number of African and Arab countries that has come under harsh criticism from health and rights activists and has been condemned by the African Churches.

lord-west.jpgThe government was currently investigating the prevalence of FGM among migrants to the UK and had ‘instigated awareness raising initiatives, including the training of health professionals.’ He noted the Metropolitan Police was investigating approximately 30 cases reported since July.

Lord West told Bishop Cassidy the police were investigating suspected cases of FGM through its child abuse investigation command under Project Azure. “This is an enforcement campaign, but it also focuses on raising awareness within communities that this is an illegal practice,” he said.

There was a ‘cultural dimension’ to FGM, Lord West said. “But that does not mean that the practice is not still barbarous. Some communities used to practise cannibalism, but that would not be accepted today. It is a difficult issue but we are doing as much as we can to stop this dreadful practice,” the minister explained.

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