UK Somalis 'racially profiled' over FGM

Parents are wrongly being arrested and having their children taken into care due to the stigma around female genital mutilation (FGM), members of the UK Somali community have told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. They say figures suggesting tens of thousands of girls are at risk in the UK are inaccurate.

"Social services with the police came to the house, removed our children and arrested my wife. We didn't know what the allegations were - nobody said anything, nobody asked us anything, it was just really a shock," said Yusef - not his real name.

The father-of-five said he and his wife had a "good" meeting with their children's school to tell them the family was relocating to Somaliland for a while.

But four days later the couple were arrested and their children taken separately into foster care, following a safeguarding referral by the school.

They say they were wrongly accused of planning to take their children abroad for FGM.

"Children must be safeguarded - but not if the danger is just assumed," said Yusef. "They are supposed to verify or investigate it properly, don't just presume something is going to happen based on someone's background or ethnicity."

But police and health workers said safeguarding policies were there for a reason - and protecting children had to be a priority.

'Huge epidemic'

FGM - intentionally cutting or injuring the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons - is understood to be practised in some African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51064309

It is illegal in the UK and carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail - the first successful prosecution took place last year.

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