H.M.Government e-petition on FGM rejected

A number of us recently co-identifed as sharing very serious concerns about the continuing nightmarishly high levels of female genital mutilation (FGM or ‘cutting’) in the UK.  We therefore set about lobbying as citizens to ensure everything possible is done to bring this unthinkably grim child abuse to a halt.

The decision was made to set up an e-petition on the H.M. Government website, a website where signatories must indicate whether they are British citizens / residents – which factor we judged important, given that our demand is in effect that enough UK taxes be allocated to eradicate fully the practice of FGM in Britain. The wording of our e-petition was very carefully considered, and we also checked thoroughly that it did not duplicate any other petition on the website.

Imagine therefore our dismay that the petition has now been rejected with no apparently coherent explanation.

Is this a case, as some have suggested, of ‘protecting adult embarrassments, rather than protecting small children at risk of devastating harm’?  The full original text of the e-petition follows, along with the HMG (Cabinet Office) response; so you can decide for yourself…  But one thing is certain. There will be another attempt at this HMG e-petition very soon.

UPDATE! Please sign and forward this e-petition (for UK citizens), posted 25 June 2012 on the HM Government website:

STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain

If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag   #NoFGM  and follow  @NoFGM1.  Thank you.

This is the original full version of the e-petition:

STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM: ‘cutting’ or circumcision) in Britain 

Over 20,000 children in Britain are estimated to be at risk annually of female genital mutilation (FGM or ‘cutting’) – more than 50 girls and babies every day, or 2+ every hour.

It is a child protection scandal of massive dimension that even now (May 2012) no-one in the UK has been fully sanctioned by the law for performing or allowing FGM in the UK, or on UK minors.

The legal position is clear and is not, even remotely, being upheld.

There can be no ‘taboo’ issues in law.

The embarrassment of carers and others responsible for safe-guarding children, or community unwillingness to intervene ‘for cultural reasons’, cannot excuse inaction on child cruelty.

Criminal abuse of children must not be ignored because those who enforce the law are uncertain how to deal with perpetrators and their victims.

This scandalous professional neglect, with 20,000+ children in the UK at risk, must be remedied forthwith.  Full enforcement of the law must be brought to bear immediately.

The response from the Cabinet Office, after a long delay, is this, and only this (with nobody’s signature and no enquiries phone number, or email, or postal address):

HM Government e-petitions: Your e-petition has been rejected

Your e-petition “STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM: ‘cutting’ or  circumcision) in Britain” hasn’t been accepted.

E-petitions will not be accepted if they:

  • contain information which may be protected by an injunction or court order
  • contain material that is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive or which may cause personal distress or loss
  • include the names of individuals if they have been accused of a crime or information that may identify them
  • include the names of individual officials who work for public bodies, unless they are part of the senior management of those organisations
  • include the names of family members of elected representatives, eg MPs, or officials who work for public bodies

Safeguarding children from female genital mutilation

So, are you any the wiser?  No? Well, we aren’t either, as yet.

But we will be. Official estimates, averaged out, suggest at least two small girls are at risk of this awful abuse every hour, every day, in the UK.

Bringing FGM to an end is much too much of an imperative for us, and many other lobbies, to let obtuse bureaucracy stand in the way of stopping this barbaric practice in the UK.  If you also want to ask your MP or others why this petition was blocked, please feel free.

For further information, and for links to original data / material, please visit

#NoFGM: A Listing For [UK] Action & References On Female Genital Mutilation

The Other FGM Debate: Is Male Circumcision Also Child Abuse?

HM Government e-petition on FGM rejected  (this post, just for ref.)

FGM: The Difficult Debates

FGM In Britain: Professional Culpability, Public Responsibility, Private Peril

FGM – Professional Neglect; Legitimate Moral Panic

FGM is a universal horror, not just in Britain

Women under threat world-wide (still); demand action now.

FGM (female circumcision) is illegal and cruel – and culturally challengeable everywhere

Footnote / disclosure: The author of this post (HB) has no business or commercial interest of any sort in connection with FGM.  She finds herself prompted to write about FGM simply because she recently discovered that, far from its incidence diminishing in the UK, the number of child victims is already vast, and probably rising. Your thoughts about this difficult issue are welcome below, as Comment. Thank you.

If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag   #NoFGM  and follow  @NoFGM1.  Thank you.

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7 Responses to H.M.Government e-petition on FGM rejected

  1. judithhaire says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been keeping my MP Laura Sandys in the picture and have sent her this.

  2. I have posted on Twitter in reply to you a link to the report of a French couple, of Guinean origin, who on Friday were found guilty of Genital Mutilation of their daughters and were sentenced to 18 months (mother) & 24 months (father) imprisonment, theoretically without remission. Hopefully the UK will follow this example.

    • PinkPolitika says:

      Thank you Brian. I understand that in France appropriate physicians are entitled, if they (or other child safe-keepers) are concerned about FGM, to examine children to establish if it has occurred. This may be of relevance…?

    • Dany says:

      Having been at the launch of the NGO Kids Task Force pack in July, how will you know if this has made any dfinerefce? Where has it been distributed? How are the stats of girls needing support now compared to a year ago? We wish to provide data so progress can be mapped the only way to measure change.

  3. Hugh Young says:

    Where does the figure of 20,000 come from? How great is the risk? Even given its clandestine nature, that seems like a lot compared to the amount that is actually known to occur. Aren’t doctors and nurses told and taught how to look out for it?

    • PinkPolitika says:

      Thanks for this Hugh. Here is the official report into FGM in the UK: A Statistical Study to Estimate the Prevalence of FGM in England and Wales), based on an analysis of data from 2001…

        Conclusions

      The estimates derived through these analyses suggest that nearly 66,000 women with FGM were living in England and Wales in 2001 and their numbers are likely to have increased since then.

      This is refl ected in the increase in the estimated percentages of all maternities which were to women with FGM from 1.06 per cent in 2001 to 1.43 per cent in 2004.

      There were nearly 16,000 girls aged 8 or younger at high risk of WHO Type III FGM and over 5,000 at high risk of WHO Type I or Type II. In addition over 8,000 girls aged 9 or more had a high probability of already having type III FGM and over 3,000 a high probability of having types I or II.

      The estimates of FGM provided in this study highlight the need not only to enhance health care for girls and adult women who have already undergone FGM but calls for systematic actions to prevent FGM being passed on to the younger generation. Despite the limitations of these estimates, they suggest that the numbers of women living in England and Wales with FGM are substantial and increasing. Action is therefore needed to provide appropriate care to girls and women concerned and to prevent FGM being passed on to the younger generation.

      Women with FGM are largely but not exclusively concentrated in particular areas, but there are many other areas of the country where there are smaller numbers of affected women. It is therefore important to ensure that services in all areas respond to their needs and the potential risks to their daughters.

      You may also like to take a look at this: FGM: The Difficult Debates, where we discuss some of the issues around attempts to halt this dreadful criminal practice.

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