(Title Image: Amnesty International)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – previously known as female circumcision – is a “procedure” which includes girls/women either having their clitoris removed or all/most of their external genitalia (clitoris and labia) removed and sewn up. It’s common in West & East African communities as well as more rural/tribal areas of the Muslim world.
It’s often performed without anaesthetic in unsterile environments and is usually done as part of a coming of age ceremony or to promote sexual purity.
It’s a criminal offence in the UK to perform it on a girl or take a girl/woman out of the country for the purpose of having it done to them – but it still happens and many women are living with the consequences.
- Recognises that FGM is widely practised worldwide and an estimated 2,000 women and girls in Wales are living with FGM.
- Calls on the Welsh Government to raise awareness amongst the public and medical practitioners, encourage schools to discuss this as part of the PSE curriculum and do all it can to ensure those affected receive help and support to tackle the problem.
Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North)
For (the motion): There’s an awareness deficit.
- FGM causes a range of medical complications such as cysts, infections and childbirth problems.
- FGM has been illegal for 32 years, but there hasn’t been a successful conviction for 30 years.
- People don’t believe it happens in their own backyard; it should be raised in schools under the new curriculum.
Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central)
For: It should be treated as a public health issue.
- A graphic piece of art is on display in Cardiff Museum by Helen Griffiths showing how the procedure is carried out.
- Jenny’s great aunt was campaigning against this in the 1920s yet it’s still happening; it needs to be regarded as a health issue like polio or cholera.
- Pleased a specialist FGM midwifery clinic is due to open at Cardiff Royal Infirmary.
Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan)
For: Those who deal with the aftermath deserve our support.
- The NSPCC has identified signs a girl has undergone FGM: being unable to sit cross-legged, clutching at their body or going to the toilet more often and for longer.
- Third Sector has an important role to play due to their expertise, skills and cultural understanding.
Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales)
For: The justification is twisted and misogynistic.
- FGM is misogynistic with a twisted religious justification – these are the opinions of victims themselves.
- Women can be left incontinent because of it and, as a result, their husbands might leave them as they become “unclean”, resulting in them living in poverty.
- People who carry out FGM often get paid per person they mutilate yet it affects some of the poorest communities.
Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West)
For: It’s medically unjustified.
- There’s no health benefit whatsoever; it’s an extreme form of discrimination against women.
- The “wall of silence” in the involved communities needs to be get rid of.
Welsh Government Response
Leader of the House, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West)
- The NSPCC-BAWSO Voices over Silence project has received a national award.
- FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of women’s rights.
- Specialist advice is available for victims of FGM via the Live Fear Free campaign.
- The Welsh Government will write to schools annually to warn them of the risks posed to girls during the summer holidays (when they might be taken out of the UK for FGM to be performed on them).
- 1,200 employees in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Cardiff & Vale health boards have been trained to “ask and act” on FGM.
The motion was approved unanimously.