Female genital mutilation (FGM) has constituted a legal offence in Britain since 1985. Despite widespread concern over the prevalence of the practice, very few empirical studies have examined the support for the underlying social and cultural norms within practising communities following migration to Britain. This study aims to capture the views of frontline professionals and influencers from the Sierra Leonean community, which has strong links to the practice. It examines the perspectives of various professionals, including police officers, teachers, social workers, and healthcare practitioners. Interviews explored their perspectives on their training pertaining to and awareness of FGM. They also explored how prepared they felt to enforce laws on FGM. The research then specifically targets the views of influential Sierra Leonean men on the practice, helping to fill a gap in the literature on the community’s attitudes towards FGM. Thirty-four participants across both groups—professionals and male community influencers—participated in one-on-one interviews. Amongst the professionals, the interviews detected gaps in knowledge, statutory powers, and conceptual understanding. There is a notable lack of cooperation and partnership work between the two participant groups. The study argues that there should be a mandatory training programme for all frontline professionals on FGM. It was observed that attitudes towards FGM within the Sierra Leonean community shifted following migration; support for the practice amongst these migrants is far lower than in their home country of Sierra Leone. The study also asserts that influential men must be emboldened to mitigate support for the practice amongst a seemingly small section of women in this diaspora community. It proposes the REPLACE approach, which draws on the cooperation of community leaders and the support of the police and other stakeholders, as a community-led approach to address concerns over the practice.
A community study on FGM: perspectives from community influencers (men) in the Sierra Leonean diaspora in London and frontline professionals
Akiwumi, A. R. (Author). Feb 2021
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis