Somalis in Bristol “stigmatized” by FGM-safeguarding approach

A study conducted by the University of Bristol has found that Somali families are often subjected to “intrusive and traumatic” questioning around FGM by health practitioners, school staff, social workers and police. The study was conducted in the summer of 2018 and procured data from 30 Somalis about their experiences with FGM-safeguarding.

The study found that “safeguarding authorities are seen to put pressure on families”, acting in ways which are in direct violation of their rights as British citizens. One of the key findings of the report was that midwives and doctors questioned Somali women about FGM repeatedly, instead of concentrating on their child’s welfare. One of the authors of the report, Dr. Saffron Karlsen from the University of Bristol, stated that “there is a considerable risk at re-traumatizing women” who have undergone FGM due to the insensitive manner in which FGM-safeguarding questions are posed.

The participants of the study described the FGM-safeguarding policy as “inherently racist” and shared sentiments on how they were made to feel like criminals due to the insensitive nature of the questions posed to them by safeguarding authorities.

The recommendations included in the study all suggest that there should be a review of the key elements that make up the FGM-safeguarding policy in order to ensure that Somalis are no longer treated like suspects when encountering the relevant authorities.

To read the full report, click here.

[Image via UNFPA Somalia]

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