If you work in early childhood education and care, it is important that you also know about female genital mutilation in order to protect girls or detect if female genital mutilation has occurred. FGM is physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse.
As early childhood educators are often aware of intimate family details such as travel plans, there are signs that to watch for to raise concerns about a girl who is either in danger or has undergone FGM.
- when changing nappies-watch out for girls who may have injuries to genitals.
- if families are going away for extended period ask what they are going to do on their holiday.
- find out if they are travelling to a country which practices FGM.
- be alert to any discussion about celebrations involving the little girls.
- call child protection services as mandatory reporter if you hear of any plans for “circumcision”.
Girls are in danger if their families originate from countries known to practice FGM
It varies. In some areas, FGM is carried out during infancy – as early as a couple of days after birth. In others, it takes place during childhood, at the time of marriage, during a woman’s first pregnancy or after the birth of her first child. Recent reports suggest that the age has been dropping in some areas, with most FGM carried out on girls between the ages of 0 and 15 years.
The practice can be found in communities around the world.
In Africa, FGM is known to be practiced among certain communities in 29 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
Certain ethnic groups in Asian countries practice FGM, including in communities in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In the Middle East, the practice occurs in Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as in Iraq, the State of Palestine and Israel.
In South America, certain communities are known to practice FGM in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.
And in many western countries, including Australia, Canada, Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from areas where the practice is common.
If you are concerned please contact the police or child protection. Early childhood educators are mandatory reporters for any form of child abuse.
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