Goldsmith Chambers and National Police Chiefs’ Council host conference on FGM and Forced Marriage

Events

To raise awareness of the new Pilot Practice Direction on FGM and forced marriage in family courts, Goldsmith Chambers and the NPCC collaborated to host a conference. Speakers included: Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlene, the President of the Family Division; Nancy Durrell McKenna, Safe Hands; Dr Charlotte Proudman, Barrister at Goldsmith Chambers; Pal Singh, Detective Sergeant; Dr Leyla Hussain, founder of Daughters of Eve; Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana; Sunny Angel, author of Wings. Over 160 people signed up to attend the event in Inner Temple Church.

An overview of the event can be found at the Metro:

More than 100,000 British girls are affected by female genital mutilation

The number of British girls believed to be at risk of female genital mutilation have more than doubled in a year, with 100,000 already affected, a barrister has said. Barrister Charlotte Proudman said judges have made more than 200 FGM protection orders since it was introduced in 2015, adding that the system is working. Around 1,960 cases were reported between 2017 and 2018, more than twice the 970 cases reported the previous year, according to government figures.

She told lawyers, judges, police and social workers at a conference in London that between July 2015 and December 2017, judges had received 222 applications and made 205 orders. FGM is a harmful traditional practice involving the cutting or removal of the external female genitals. There is absolutely no medical or religious justification for the act, which in the UK is deemed as a form of child abuse and has been illegal since 1985. An NSPCC spokesperson said: ‘Sadly, the true picture of how many girls and women affected by this abhorrent crime is likely to be much higher because for far too long the practice of FGM has been cloaked in secrecy.

‘Since we launched our dedicated FGM helpline we have had nearly 2,000 calls, and last year we referred 82 cases to the authorities. ‘By encouraging communities to speak out we hope to bring an end to this dangerous and illegal practice in the UK.’ Psychotherapist Leyla Hussein, who campaigns on FGM issues, told the conference, organised by barristers at Goldsmith Chambers and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, that FGM is one of the worst forms of sexual assault. A new drive was launched by the Home Office in October to tackle the ‘hidden crime’.

It is practiced in around 30 countries globally, mainly in Africa, some parts of Asia and the Middle East. It has existed for more than 2,000 years and is performed on girls from birth up until around the age of 15. Globally more than 200 million girls are at risk. It is also now against the law in the UK to take a child abroad to be cut and protection orders can be granted to youngsters at risk.

The authorities want to make it more of a mainstream conversation in a bid to help more girls. FGM lead Allen Davis told Metro.co.uk there was nothing to fear as long as people talked about the practice in a ‘culturally appropriate and sensitive way.’ He said: ‘It is an issue of violence towards women and girls.’ The NSPCC’s FGM helpline is on 0800 028 3550.


Related barristers: Dr Charlotte Proudman