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Teachers told to be alert for signs of FGM in pupils.

Byline: Anna Lewis Reporter anna.lewis@walesonline.co.uk

Welsh girls could be flown abroad to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) during the school holidays, experts have warned. The National FGM Centre has urged teachers to be alert to spot girls who are at risk over the festive period.

The practice - involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for nonmedical reason - is illegal in the UK.

Professionals including teachers, social workers and healthcare staff have been told to be aware of warning signs and know how to help, the centre said.

Signs can include girls talking to friends about FGM, saying they are going to have a "special procedure" or attend an occasion to "become a woman", or discussing a long holiday in a country where the practice is prevalent in Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia.

Parents may also talk about holidays, mention they are taking their child out of the country for a prolonged period of time or ask permission to take their daughter out of school during term-time.

Any teacher who suspects a girl might be at risk should follow normal safeguarding procedures.

Between October 2016 and 2017 there were 203 women living in the Cardiff and Vale University health board area with the effects of FGM.

In total there are an estimated 2,000 women in Wales living with the effects of FGM. Wales' first clinic to help victims will open in Cardiff next year at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary.

A spokesman for NSPCC Wales said FGM was affecting "hundreds of girls" calling the children's charity helpline.

He said: "We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that female genital mutilation is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help before it is too late.

"For far too long female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy, so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended and no child is put through this needless, traumatic procedure.

"This is child abuse, it is against the law and it has no place in any society."

Michelle Lee-Izu, director of the National FGM Centre, said: "We believe the best way of preventing the practice is by working with girls and their families, raising awareness in schools and communities and training professionals like teachers and social workers to spot girls at risk of FGM and know how to report it.

"We hope our reminder of the signs will help not just teachers but all agencies to prevent FGM from happening by identifying girls at risk and helping to prosecute those who fail to protect girls from this type of abuse."

CAPTION(S):

<B " Michelle Lee-Izu, director of the National FGM Centr

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2017
Words:472
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