Follow-up Webinar about FGM Protection Orders (FGMPOs)

July 11, 2020

The 9th of July 2020, we organized a follow-up webinar about Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs).

What are FGMPOs?

The first webinar took place the 16th of June 2020. FGMPOs were introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2015 and they were introduced in Scotland this year. They have been widely used by public authorities and family members to prevent a girl from being subject to FGM/C. They are largely injunctive remedies that for example, prevent a girl at risk of FGM/C from leaving the country. The purpose of the first webinar was to encourage discussion with key FGM/C stakeholders about the purpose and impact of FGMPOs and the implementation and enforcement of FGMPOs in the UK.

Follow-up webinar

In response to the success of this webinar, and to accommodate the many questions that were asked, we decided to host a follow-up webinar. We organized this webinar in cooperation with Dr. Charlotte Proudman and Chiara Cosentino of the End FGM European Network.  

The webinar started with an introduction of Chiara and a brief recap of the previous webinar by Charlotte. Afterwards, we provided ample opportunity to answer any questions from the audience and have a panel discussion with three panelists:

  • Dr. Charlotte Proudman (Research Fellow at Cambridge and barrister at Goldsmith Chambers)
  • Gillian Squires (West Midlands Police)
  • Leethen Bartholomew (Head of National FGM Centre)

I had the honor to moderate the panel discussion and Q&A. We asked our audience three main questions as a frame for the session:

  1. What legal remedies, criminal law not included, exist in your country to prevent and deter FGM/C?
  2. Do you know of a case in your country in which  girls were at risk of FGM/C and the law could have protected them better?
  3. Could FGMPOs work in your country?

The third question ‘Could FGMPOs work in your country?’ was answered immediately via a poll that I shared via Zoom with all participants. Interestingly enough, all participants who answered this question (and weren’t from the UK) said they thought it would be a good idea to introduce FGMPOs in their country! That was a very encouraging start.

Q&A session

The other two questions were addressed in a very engaging and informative 45-minute Q&A session that followed afterwards. Participants of the webinar were provided the opportunity to ask all different types of questions to the panelists and we received some very good and interesting questions from our audience. For example, a question was posed regarding the legal position of an FGMPO in other jurisdictions that do not have an FGMPO-equivalent; Will enforceability of the UK FGMPO in a foreign jurisdiction depend upon the agreement in place with the UK? What about the requirement of mandatory reporting of FGM/C cases? Is the UK struggling with that as well?

Legal remedies in other EU countries

At the same time, the webinar became a ‘two-way knowledge-sharing exercise’ as the participants shared interesting experiences and important findings with us as well in relation to what legal remedies exist in other countries to prevent and deter FGM/C. A participant from Belgium shared for example how girls at risk of FGM/C are currently being protected in Belgium. Parents who want to travel with their daughter to a country of origin with high FGM/C prevalence sign a document before they travel, confirming that they will not cut their daughter and the girl is medically examined when they come back. Similar written agreements exist and forms are being signed in the Netherlands and other EU countries. However, we discussed with each other whether such an agreement would be legally binding (as it is not registered in court) and enforceable in case it is being violated (and what the added value of an FGMPO would be in such situations). In addition, we discussed a case from Portugal, where a mother was being separated from her daughter, but Charlotte clearly indicated that this would never happen with an FGMPO.

We received and answered many other very interesting questions and a lot of practical matters were clarified! We would like to thank the audience of both webinars for joining, for asking questions and for their valuable input. Both webinars were a great learning experience and we are very happy that – with these two webinars – we have started the conversation on how FGMPOs could be rolled out in other EU countries!

The webinar was recorded and available on YouTube:

Materials from the webinar