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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:24 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford 9:24 pm, 11th March 2019

I am delighted to support the Bill tonight. FGM is a hideous crime that has no place in our society, and I am pleased it has been illegal in the UK since 1985 when a law was introduced by the then Conservative Government. The law was tightened up again in 2015 by a Conservative-led Government, which is why it is completely correct that this Government are leading the work again tonight.

It is estimated that 200 million girls and women across the world, over 130,000 of them in the UK, have been subjected to FGM. It has been independently suggested that some 60,000 girls and women in this country are at risk today. We know that, for many of those girls, FGM often happens in another country, which is why it is crucial that we continue to support the work of DFID to make sure our young girls and women are protected not only in the UK but overseas.

I want to use my time to give a strong shout out for DFID’s work. People often ask us on the doorstep what we get from the DFID budget, so I will set out some of the things we are doing with it. Since 2013, DFID-supported programmes have helped more than 8,000 communities—that is 24.5 million people—pledge to abandon FGM. We have helped to make the practice illegal in Gambia, Nigeria and Mauritania, and we have helped Burkina Faso, Egypt and Uganda to strengthen their laws. More than 3 million girls and women have received FGM protection and care due to the work of DFID-supported projects.

The new £50 million programme in Africa will go to projects that seek to change attitudes by supporting grassroots activists, youth initiatives, doctors, midwives and nurses to help end FGM all over Africa. A total of £15 million is going into Sudan to reduce the social acceptance of FGM, and another £12 million will go to the UN trust fund to help protect women and girls in some of the world’s poorest countries from practices such as FGM, child marriage and domestic and sexual violence.

In our debate on Thursday for International Women’s Day, I pointed out that girls in developing countries are two and a half times more likely than boys not to attend school and three times more likely than boys to be a victim of modern slavery. Through DFID, the Government are supporting work across the world not only to reduce and stop FGM but to stop violence against women and to help all girls get the education they deserve. I am thankful for this Bill.