Posted on Tuesday 16 December 2014
Baroness Northover with Comfort Momoh and FGM campaigners
A new Government minister at the Department for International Development (DFID) visited the female genital mutilation (FGM) clinic at St Thomas’ Hospital yesterday to meet frontline staff and campaigners.
International Development Minister Baroness Northover met FGM and public health specialist Comfort Momoh, who opened one of the UK’s first FGM clinics in 1997. She now cares for more than 400 women and girls a year.
The Baroness, who worked at St Thomas’ in the 1980s, spoke with midwives and managers to seek their views about the government’s plans for a new mandatory reporting duty, which is currently being consulted on by the Home Office.
Comfort Momoh says: “It was a pleasure to welcome Baroness Northover to St Thomas’. We hope the visit was both informative and eye-opening for her.
“We appreciate the time she and other colleagues from DFID have taken to see the realities of FGM, to discuss the issues with campaigners, and to hear from frontline staff about reporting FGM.”
Comfort gave the Baroness a tour of her clinic before hosting a discussion with her colleagues and FGM patients, survivors and campaigners.
Baroness Northover recently took over as International Development Minister from Lynne Featherstone MP. She and was keen to visit a clinic to learn about the needs of patients and to understand the international dimension of FGM.
In a blog about her visit, the Baroness says: “It seemed right that on my first FGM visit as International Development Minister, it was to Comfort and her clinic that I should go.
“Meeting survivors, it is clear that every woman’s story of FGM may be different. But where they spoke as one was in their determination not to let FGM destroy their lives, or for the practice to continue.
“And that is why we want to encourage more people to speak out about FGM to bring what has long been a hidden crime out into the open.”
Comfort adds: “Although we all know there is still a long fight ahead, having the Government behind us is a massive step forward and one we hope will continue so that we can continue our fight to end FGM in a generation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage professionals to work very closely with the community, to educate and empower them.”
You can read the Baroness’s full blog about her visit to Comfort Momoh’s FGM clinic, here.