FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) or female genital cutting has damaging mental and physical effects on women and girls around the world. Research has shown that 140 million women and girls worldwide have been affected and of these, 66,000 were in the UK. It is estimated that up to 98,000 girls in the UK are at risk of being cut.
The World Health Organisation called for the elimination of FGM 30 years ago and the practice was made illegal in the UK in 1985 (with an update in 2003 that made it an offence to arrange to have it performed outside the UK on British Citizens), however there has not been one conviction.
Despite being a human rights abuse, the practice goes largely unreported amongst the diasporic communities in which it is practiced. Our researchers have taken a unique approach to this issue by working with practising communities to understand the barriers to preventing FGM and have used results of their research to try to change behaviours within communities.
The research is community-focused, culturally sensitive and empowers individuals and communities to work together to end the practice of FGM. The research is funded by the EC’s Daphne Programme. The findings of the research have been disseminated to policy makers at a Houses of Parliament Seminar in March 2012 and a conference in Brussels in 2011.
The two projects (REPLACE I and 2) led by Professor Hazel Barrett have created and rolled out methodologies with free online resources for communities to use in the fight against FGM. The Coventry University team collaborate with partners in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands to tackle the issues within these countries.
Professor Barrett believes that this community-based approach is the best way to tackle the issue of FGM worldwide.
Watch our video to listen to Professor Barrett explain the project in more detail.