FGM rise in Redbridge down to lack of funding, charity claims

Bushra Tahir who works for AWAAZ

Bushra Tahir who works for AWAAZ - Credit: Archant

The leader of a Redbridge women’s charity claims a lack of funding is responsible for a rise in cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the borough.

A cultural practice in some African and Asian communities, FGM involves intentionally injuring female genitals for non-medical reasons, including removing, cutting, burning or sewing them up to be cut open years later.

The NSPCC reported 70 new cases of FGM in Redbridge in the 12 months from April 2015, and Bushra Tahir, chairwoman of Awaaz, told the Recorder that her charity is determined to help.

“We are really, really worried about this,” she said.

“It’s a problem we are aware of but at the moment the funding to intervene on a large scale just isn’t there.

“We are currently in the process of applying for a Redbridge small funds grant to run a campaign to raise awareness of the issue.”

Awaaz is hoping to run a pilot scheme attempting to educate the parents of at risk young women.

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Mrs Tahir said: “It’s a very touchy, confidential issue, but talking to the girls and educating them isn’t an issue.

“It’s when they go home to their fathers or husbands who say ‘our forefathers have always done it this way, why can’t we?’ that it becomes more complicated because they expect these women to keep quiet and carry on with their traditions.”

Data released by the NHS shows 85 reported FGM cases in Redbridge last year. Only 35 of those cases came about as a result of the victim reporting the crime themselves.

John Cameron, head of NSPCC helplines, said: “We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that FGM is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help.

“It’s vital that everyone realises FGM serves no purpose, and leaves long lasting physical and emotional scars on the victims.

“For far too long female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended. This is child abuse and it is against the law. It has no place in any society.”