British Somalis and FGM: ‘everybody is a suspect – you are guilty until proven innocent’
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), whereby the female genitals are deliberately injured or changed for non-medical reasons, is considered by the UN to be a “global concern”.
International organisations often report statistical evidence that 98% of women and girls in Somalia/Somaliland have undergone FGM. Because of this international evidence, girls born to Somali parents living in the UK are considered to be at high risk of experiencing FGM. Yet research shows that attitudes towards FGM change dramatically following migration and therefore girls in the UK are unlikely to be put through this procedure.
Concern over the practice of FGM has led the UK government to create policies intended to protect girls at risk. Known as FGM safeguarding, these policies require professionals – such as teachers, healthcare or youth workers – to report to the police any concerns that a child has had, or could be at risk of, FGM.
Our research presents the views of Somali families living in Bristol with experience of FGM safeguarding. Our findings were collected during six focus groups with 30 Somali men, women and young adults during the summer of 2018.