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I have just returned from a play called ‘Cuttin’ It’ by Charlene James. Fiercely brilliant, it confronts the vital issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in England. Its portrayal of the complexity of this crime along with the reality of the enduring physical, emotional and physiological impact on individuals, families and friendships is bold, tender and heartbreaking.
With over 200 million women globally affected, there still remains a silence about this illegal practice that affects children and women living in our country.
From Africa to Asia, England to America, this is not a single culture issue nor is it a women-only issue. It’s global. A human issue. A parenting issue and an issue we need to work with our communities to eradicate.
2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and today we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. Since 2014, our nurses and midwives have been at the centre of our FGM programme which has helped break some of the silence; by focusing on prevention and the protection of those at risk and those who have already been affected by FGM.
We have promoted the zero tolerance of FGM with NHS training standards for all professionals and mandated data sets in place to monitor its prevalence.
Last year, we opened eight clinics for non-pregnant women who have experienced FGM. By embedding clinics in our communities, nurses and midwives have made great strides to encourage open conversation with individuals and communities about the devastating impact of FGM.
Each day staff in these clinics work across professions to ensure women receive tailored physical and psychological support to help them rebuild their lives, tell their stories and influence others. Each day we learn from the women and communities they work with, using data to understand where and how to support those affected.
NHS staff use their voice to stand up for vulnerable women and girls and we share this work, and learn from others on the global stage.
In this international year of the Nurse and Midwife, this is a shout out to your leadership that has supported so many women affected by FGM and for your advocacy that will protect future generations. Please follow the conversations at #EndFGM – and thank you nurses and midwives on behalf of #teamCNO.