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Plan for anti-FGM laws welcomed

Published 14/06/2015

David Cameron said new laws aimed at sparing girls from female genital mutilation could go through Parliament in weeks
David Cameron said new laws aimed at sparing girls from female genital mutilation could go through Parliament in weeks

Campaigners have welcomed plans to fast-track through Parliament new laws aimed at sparing girls from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Charities said the measures, which would be introduced before the school summer holidays next month, would help prevent vulnerable young females from being taken abroad for the procedure.

David Cameron told the Observer the plans could go through Parliament in weeks.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that leaves its victims physically and mentally scarred.

"It has no place in any society and any new measures aimed at eradicating it are welcome.

"We know there is a particularly heightened risk for girls during school holidays, so it's right the authorities target those times.

"More prosecutions will help protect children and we can all play a role by reporting any concerns to the authorities or the NSPCC helpline - 0808 800 5000 - so the young victims can get the support they need."

The measures will enable local authorities, social workers or police to apply directly to courts to ensure that any individual they suspect of trying to take someone abroad for FGM will have to surrender their passport and other travel documents with immediate effect.

The new laws were due to be brought before the debating chambers later in the year, but the newspaper said the Prime Minister decided to act now.

Mr Cameron told the Observer: "Female genital mutilation is a cruel and barbaric practice. At last year's global summit in London, I said we should not rest until this abhorrent practice is stopped everywhere.

"But the fact that it is happening right here, to young women and girls in our own country, sickens and appals me. These new orders will help in the fight against this horrific abuse."

The measures are likely to get cross-party support.

Earlier this year, Labour said people who encourage FGM should be treated as criminals.

Tanya Barron, chief executive of children's charity Plan UK, said: "New UK laws to help protect vulnerable girls at risk from FGM are welcome - as is any and all measures to combat what is a fundamental human rights violation.

"However, it is imperative we remember that FGM is a global problem and cannot be tackled effectively in isolation.

"Only through grassroots work in the school rooms of Britain to the villages of Africa and Asia will we empower girls and help bring an end to FGM in a generation."

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