FGM Centre urges professionals be aware over increased risk to girls over Christmas

Girls could be flown abroad to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) during the Christmas holidays, the National FGM Centre has warned.

It said children who could be subject to FGM abroad may start telling friends about FGM or say they are going to have a “special procedure” or are going to “become a woman”.

Girls who fear they are at risk may also approach a teacher or another adult.

Meanwhile, parents may unwittingly give clues, including asking permission to take their girls out of school during term-time or saying they are taking their child out of the country for a prolonged period of time, the centre added.

It also said parents may mention they are going to spend the holidays in a country with a high prevalence of FGM.

Some 1,930 women and girls were identified as having had FGM in the most recent NHS data, covering the period July to September.

Some 830 of these cases took place abroad, the National FGM Centre said.

The centre is a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association.

Leethen Bartholomew (pictured), head of the National FGM Centre, said: “We know from experience that many cases of FGM occur in school holidays, especially during summer and Christmas.

“It is important that teachers and other professionals are trained in spotting the signs of FGM and how to record and report it, so that girls at risk can be protected and safeguarded.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) National FGM Centre.