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For Professionals

In Australia, as in other western countries, there needs to be a grassroots approach to prevention through empowering and engaging FGM affected communities to educate about harms associated with female genital mutilation.
We also we need to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect girls who may still be at risk, from those who are resistant to the messages, and also for those who haven not heard them.
Therefore we also need strong government policies which provide protection for girls from FGM, including laws which are enforced.
If there is a chance a girl is in danger of female genital mutilation, the law can act as a powerful deterrent.
child-protectThere are laws and processes in every state which have been established to protect children from child abuse and sexual abuse. These processes can also be engaged to help ensure girls remain safe from female genital mutilation.
This means that teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers and other professionals who are working with girls at risk must learn about the danger signs of FGM and be able to act on concerns without recriminations.

It is not racist to speak out against female genital mutilation.

It IS racist to NOT protect a girl who is at risk of child abuse because of her colour or her background.

No FGM Australia consulted the “top 8” universities in Australia, and just two universities reported that female genital mutilation was included in the Medicine curriculum for training doctors. None of the health professional or education courses included FGM as part of the training, even as part of the mandatory reporting training.

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“the subject (FGM) is totally missing from university courses for human service professionals.”
( Professor Freda Briggs )

There are resources available through the UK however which have a child protection focus and which are provided below:

End The Fear
www.endthefear.co.uk/media/uploads/fgm/story.html

The END FGM European Campaign:
www.uefgm.org/About-The_END_FGM_European_Campaign,EN.ABOUT.01,EN

London Safeguarding Children Board FGM resources
www.londonscb.gov.uk/fgm/

mandatoryFGM is not ‘typical’ child abuse however and many people in Australia who are mandatory reporters of child abuse such as teachers, nurses, doctors or social workers may not be aware of the signs to look for in order to safeguard a girl from FGM.

Also, as FGM is such a hidden problem, often not spoken about openly in the communities in which it is practiced, and hidden in that it involves the private parts of a girl, there is a great risk that FGM could happen secretly to girls and no one would know about it.

Currently female genital mutilation is not included in any mandatory protection training in any state or territory.

In Victoria, legislation was passed in 2014 which required EVERY adult who was concerned about a child at risk of sexual abuse to be mandated to report this abuse. Female genital mutilation is the purposeful mutilation of a child’s sexual organs and as such is both physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Here are the mandatory reporting guidelines for each state.

There is little research which informs us about prevalence of female genital mutilation in Australia.

There are several resources which have been produced including literature reviews.

Here is our submission to the Victorian Royal Commission which outlines the elements of the research which have been under-reported in Australia leading to a perception that there is less of a danger than there really is.

Family Planning Victoria

Qualitative research on perceptions of female genital mutilation in:

Inner Melbourne

Regional Victoria

Experiences of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians and FGM workers

Female genital mutilation has been outlawed in every state and territory of Australia.

The laws were reviewed by the Attorney General in 2013 and recommendations made in order to improve consistency across states.

Professor Ben Mathews provides a discussion of the Australian FGM laws in this paper.

His view is that there is an absolute human right which must be respected when it comes to female genital mutilation.

“Although FGM remains widely practiced and there is much progress yet to be made before its eradication, the rights-based approach which has grown in strength embodies a marked shift in cultural power which reflects progress in women’s and children’s rights in the Western world, but which is now being applied in a different cultural context.”

Ben Mathews, 2013.

TBA

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We estimate that there are over 83,000 women and girls in Australia who have survived the practice of FGM. Many of these women and girls will have special healthcare needs due to FGM. No FGM Australia believe it is the right of all survivors of FGM to have access to sensitive and specialised care for their needs. We are lobbying for increased support for survivors of FGM by way of specialised training for health care providers such that all women are treated with respect and dignity.

The University of Sydney in collaboration with UTS has also recently created an elearning module for professionals working with women who may be affected by FGM. This will be launched shortly on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) website.The National Education Toolkit for FGM/C is a resource for health professionals working with survivors of female genital mutilation.

www.netfa.com.au

Exciting news for survivpierre-foldesors of FGM in Australia is that the surgeon who pioneered clitoral restoration, Pierre Foldes MD, has agreed to come to Australia to perform the surgery and train Australian surgeons in the technique. This is currently unavailable to Australian survivors of FGM.

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