Parents are wrongly being arrested and having their children taken into care due to the stigma around female genital mutilation (FGM), members of the UK Somali community have told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. They say figures suggesting tens of thousands of girls are at risk in the UK are inaccurate. “Social services with the police…

Women walking

Of us are wrongly being arrested and having their children taken into care because of the the stigma round female genital mutilation (FGM), participants of the UK Somali community fill suggested the Victoria Derbyshire programme. They are saying figures suggesting tens of hundreds of girls are in menace within the UK are mistaken.

“Social services with the police got here to the dwelling, eradicated our children and arrested my wife. We did not know what the allegations were – no one said the relaxation, no one asked us the relaxation, it turned into as soon as fair truly a shock,” said Yusef – now not his accurate name.

The father-of-five said he and his wife had a “noteworthy” assembly with their children’s school to affirm them the household turned into as soon as relocating to Somaliland for a whereas.

But four days later the couple were arrested and their children taken individually into foster care, following a safeguarding referral by the college.

They are saying they were wrongly accused of planning to grab their children in a foreign country for FGM.

“Younger of us need to be safeguarded – nonetheless now not if the menace is fair assumed,” said Yusef. “They are presupposed to take a look at or study it nicely, don’t fair presume something goes to happen fixed with somebody’s background or ethnicity.”

But police and scientific examiners said safeguarding policies were there for a goal – and preserving children had to be a precedence.

‘Colossal epidemic’

FGM – intentionally altering or injuring the female exterior genitalia for non-scientific reasons – is identified to be practised in some African, Asian and Center Jap countries.

It’s illegal within the UK and carries a sentence of as much as 14 years in penal complicated – the first a success prosecution took situation final 365 days.

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Zainab Nur said of us within the Somali community were being victimised

In Yusef’s case, the police took no extra hurry and the kids were returned.

Slough Younger of us’s Services Believe has now apologised to the household and upheld seven of their complaints. It has also agreed to withdraw an FGM Protection Utter, which restricts the household from leaving the nation with out looking out out for permission.

Each the police and the Believe said they could maybe well additionally now not train on particular particular person cases, nonetheless safeguarding turned into as soon as at all times the #1 precedence.

UNICEF figures estimate 98% of girls and girls in Somalia fill passed through FGM. But Somalis residing within the UK state here is mistaken, and formulation they’ve attracted particular consideration from FGM safeguarding policy.

Examine published by Metropolis College in 2015 instructed that 144,000 ladies were in menace of FGM in England and Wales.

Mothers we spoke to in Cardiff said the message from education suppliers and the media instructed there turned into as soon as a “huge epidemic” of FGM curious their British-born daughters.

Venerable social worker and Somali campaigner Zainab Nur, from the Hayaat Ladies folks Believe, said she knew bigger than a dozen cases where children were wrongly taken into care because of the FGM possibility.

“These policies are having a huge impact,” she said. “We’re being victimised, we’re being racially profiled as being in menace of FGM, and it be affecting us.”

She also says she knows hundreds of cases where households were wrongly being referred to safeguarding.

One mother, Nimo, said she virtually died after undergoing FGM on the age of eight. She says health professionals as soon as rapidly made “automatic assumptions” because of the her trip.

“I with out a doubt fill a diabetic daughter, she had a urine an infection and the doctor says to me: ‘Has she had FGM finished to her?’ My daughter she did not know the relaxation about FGM, she’d by no formulation heard of it.

“This stuff quit happen and we rep asked because of the the kids. I turned into as soon as relish, ‘Oh my God’, which skill of I haven’t spoken about FGM in a long, very long time.”

‘Stigmatise households’

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Dr Saffron Karlsen says Bristol College plans extra study on FGM within the UK

Researchers at Bristol College spoke to 30 Somali mothers, fathers and younger adults about their experiences with FGM safeguarding services.

Dr Saffron Karlsen said more and more the proof instructed it turned into as soon as now not as a huge a misfortune as it turned into as soon as assumed to be.

She said: “We would love to survey an cease to FGM nonetheless the trend the brand new gadget is decided up looks to penalise and stigmatise innocent households, and households where’s there isn’t any proof to point out…that their children are going to be exposed to FGM.”

Preserving ladies

But Janet Fyle, policy adviser on the Royal Faculty of Midwives, said she disagreed with the worries, and that safeguarding practices were there for a goal.

“Mavens fill the honest to query,” she said. “We all know FGM is occurring on this nation beneath our noses – it’s miles serious to focal level on this as that’s the accurate teach.

“Speaking about this teach of stigma is distracting – the precedence wants to be preserving ladies.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said police, health and children’s services had a responsibility to present protection to formative years from injure.

Commander Ivan Balhatchet, lead for female genital mutilation, said: “When of us verbalize us they’ve concerns for the wellbeing and safety of a kid, police will at all times study, because the public would query.

“There’ll be cases where of us fill righteous concerns referring to children and so that they need to at all times truly feel in a situation to device relieve ahead and tell to police. We will be able to take care of each and every particular particular person case sensitively and confidentially.”

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