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Reporting and prevention of Female Genital Mutilation

The experiences of school staff in primary schools in relation to the reporting and prevention of Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for no medical reasons. FGM is often carried between infancy to age 15 and affects more than 200-milion girls and women. The United Nations assembly voted in 2012 to work towards the elimination of FGM throughout the world. In line with this commitment, schools play a fundamental role for two main reasons.

First, taking into account the age at which this form of abuse occurs, schools play a crucial role in preventing FGM from occurring as well as in offering protection to girls who have undergone FGM. Second, the implementation of the legal requirements of child protection policies means teachers are essentially the frontline professionals who can identify and report children who are at risk of FGM. However, current training in schools is not unified and the provision varies greatly across settings.

Research that explores the experiences of professionals working with FGM is almost exclusively limited to the fields of midwifery and nursing, where professionals are more likely to come into contact with women who have already undergone FGM. This focus has lead research towards treating and managing the social symptoms of FGM, meaning that the role of schools in the prevention of FGM has been largely overlooked.

Therefore, this project aims to contribute to the creation of a body of evidence that will support schools in fulfilling the safeguarding requirement to help prevent FGM. Training materials offered to teachers often present FGM as a cultural issue and there are no specific clarifications around the controversial association of FGM with religion. Associating FGM with specific ethnicities or with a specific religion without providing teachers with the critical tools needed to problematize these constructs can hinder the safeguarding duties of education professionals towards potential victims of FGM.

The project fills an important gap by focusing on schools to ensure that training addresses the specific needs of education professionals. Currently, there is no research investigating teachers’ perceptions or experience of FGM training, neither the effectiveness of existing training in improving teachers’ understanding of FGM nor the requirements of their role in preventing and protecting girls from FGM.

The project includes:

  • interviews and focus groups to capture teachers’ perceptions and experiences relating to the effectiveness of current safeguarding training to help them identify, prevent and report FGM.
  • designing a training package that can be offered to schools, giving education professionals the opportunity to problematize the notion of culture, and allowing them to approach the issue of FGM with confidence and professionalism.

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Related Research Group(s)

Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning

Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning - Challenging conventional attitudes and practices and promoting respectful and effective intercultural communication, cross-cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion, within a world that is increasingly interconnected digitally.

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Project last modified 04/05/2021