September 19 2014 Latest news:
Janine Rasiah, Senior Reporter
Friday, August 15, 2014
A Newham school has been praised for blazing a trail in its efforts to eradicate FGM.
Campaigner Alimatu Dimonekene, who underwent FGM at 16, has described Forest Gate Community as a “beacon of excellence” and urged other schools to follow its example.
She said that not only does the school have structures in place to deal with the practice but it also enforces them.
“The teachers seem to know exactly what is needed to be done which for me as a campaigner is fantastic to see,” Alimatu who works as a FGM Prevention and Support Caseworker for health organisation Manor Gardens, said.
“They are a beacon of excellence as far as I am concerned as having something in place makes the students secure. People know where they can go to talk if they have concerns in order for immediate action to be taken.”
Alimatu, who recently appeared at the UK’s first Girl Summit which aimed to mobilise national and international efforts to end FGM, believes that schools have a vital part in play in eliminating the practise.
“Children spend a lot of time at school and they are an an impressionable age where they look up to their teachers so it is important that they have confidence in them,” she said.
“Equally, teachers spend so much time with their students so they see when things are not right and they need to be able to report their concerns.”
Deputy headteacher Charlotte Whelan, who leads the school safeguarding, said the school was doing all it can to stop the illegal practice.
“Other schools have tended to shy away out of a fear of offending some cultures or communities,” she said.
“But FGM is illegal in this country, not to mention hugely damaging both physically and psychologically for young girls.”