Crackdown on practice of female genital mutilation

David Cameron. Picture: Getty

David Cameron. Picture: Getty

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SCHOOL pupils as young as 11 are set to receive classes on female genital mutilation (FGM) under a drive in the Capital to crack down on the practice.

Headteachers said youngsters in S1-6 could receive personal and social education (PSE) lessons on FGM, which world health leaders have defined as “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

Primary school staff will also advise individual pupils in their care, amid fears thousands of Scots children are now at risk from the procedure.

As well as providing formal classes, heads are to receive mandatory training.

The move comes after Prime minister David Cameron said parents who fail to prevent children being subjected to the practice would face prosecution under new legislation.

Roshni, a Scottish charity which specialises in ethnic minority issues, described the Edinburgh initiative as a positive development.

But member Anela Anwar added: “It’s not clear whether this is just targeted at children and young people from practising communities or all of the children in a school. We think it’s key it goes across the board.

“I do not think [discussing the practice] is a difficult job whatsoever. We deliver sessions to kids as young as six, and up to 16, covering FGM, physical and emotional abuse.

“It’s about using the correct medical terminology – not patronising children and being clear on the parts of the body that might be harmed.”

The approach has also been welcomed by education secretary Michael Russell, who said: “Earlier this year I contacted all head teachers in Scotland to raise the issue of FGM as I believe that schools can play a key role in eradicating the practice.

“It is encouraging that Edinburgh’s schools have responded to this advice and taken steps to ensure staff are equipped to support any pupils affected by this practice.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, city education leader, said: “Staff are aware that if they suspect pupils could be affected by this issue then it should be treated as a child protection matter.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com