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Public sector staff to be given training on FGM

Teachers, doctors and social workers are to be given extra training to help identify and assist girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

New guidance about the practice, which will be unveiled this week by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg at the Girl Summit, being hosted by the government and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) in London, will become part of compulsory training in public sector organisations.

FGM, which is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, is illegal in the UK but the practice occurs in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Clegg will tell the Girl Summit: “Without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don't have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they're worried someone is vulnerable.

“FGM is one of the oldest and the most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of generations of young women and girls. We’re currently failing thousands of girls...central to tackling it are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk.”

Responding to the comments, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said that controlling the lives and bodies of young women and girls through FGM has no place in modern Britain and the government’s work to put a stop to it is to be commended.

He added: “Nurses have a vital role to play in ending this practice that affects the lives of thousands in the UK and beyond. The RCN has worked with the government on the development of training and guidance to help equip frontline staff with the skills they need to tackle this most sensitive of issues.”

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, stated that the moves are positive steps and ones that will contribute to stopping this terrible practice. However, all these things have to backed up with resources and commitment across public services, such as ensuring staff have access to the mandatory training.

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