Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:25 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Labour, Rotherham 8:25 pm, 11th March 2019

I have heard of it but not visited. However, that is two centres for an estimated 160,000 women and girls. We need to have more and it needs to be statutory.

When we talk about prosecutions and mandatory reporting, the crime has already been committed and the damage, both physical and psychological, has already been done. We need to be doing much more about prevention. I would like to speak in support of the National FGM Centre, which is a collaboration between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association. It receives funding from the Home Office, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care. None of those Departments is continuing its funding beyond 2020 because it is deemed that the centre ought to be generating its own income. I understand that. However, its main support services go via local authorities, which are already suffering under huge cuts and do not have additional resources to start buying in specialist support for FGM.

The National FGM Centre does great work. It embeds FGM specialist social workers within multidisciplinary safeguarding teams. It works from the bottom up, empowering communities to tackle this crime themselves and to get the word out that it is a crime and it should not be happening. The centre also does amazing training for professionals and provides a knowledge hub so that all local authorities can share the information. With the best will in the world, if the funding stops, the prevention work will stop with it.