Information for Teachers

Why is it important that teachers are aware of FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation is illegal across all states of Australia and is “recognised internationally as a violation of the rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.” (UN)

Schools are required by law to report suspected cases of FGM, as it comes under the children protection guidelines.

Approximately 200 million girls and women worldwide are survivors of FGM. “Between 2015 and 2030, 68 million girls globally are at risk of FGM.” (UN)

Identifying if a student is at risk of FGM

  • The student comes from a community of family where FGM is known to have taken place
  • The student has family members known to have undergone FGM
  • The student is being taken out of school for a long period of time, especially for an extended vacation or during the summer months when FGM is more commonly performed
  • The student expresses fear or anxiety about an impending trip or vacation, especially if it is to their family’s country of origin
  • The student may speak about a ‘special ceremony or occasion’
  • The student is unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • The student is experiencing generalised changes in their behaviour

Identifying if a student has recently undergone FGM

  • Difficulty or discomfort walking, standing or sitting
  • Complaints of pain between legs
  • Spending longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet (due to difficulties urinating)
  • Appearing quiet, anxious, or depressed
  • In school, a girl may have long periods away from classes (e.g. trying to get out of physical education or sporting activities)
  • Mentioning that someone did something to them that they are not allowed to talk about

What should a school do, if it believes that a child is at risk of FGM?

What can schools do to address FGM as a wider issue?

Break the Taboo. Break the Silence.

It is essential that All staff are adequately trained around the awareness of FGM and how to deal with this occurrence sensitively and appropriately. Schools can further assist by liaising with the community in an out-reach capacity. Any students who are at risk should be referred to appropriate psychological services and support.

Education and awareness are key in stopping FGM.

“One of the most important parts of the campaign against FGM/C is eliminating the secrecy and isolation that accompanies it. The girls are often sworn to secrecy at the time of ceremonial excision, and taught never to speak of what they experienced. The testimonies of women are therefore crucial in assisting women and girls who have been silenced through fear.”

FGM/C Prevention: A Resource for US Schools; Council of the Great City Schools