HEADTEACHERS across Wearside will be contacted by the Education Minister reminding them of their duty to schoolgirls.
Following a petition, Michael Gove has agreed to contact all primary and secondary schools in order to educate people about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The move has been welcomed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
A petition to end FGM was started by Bristol student Fahma Mohamed, 17, and attracted almost 250,000 signatures.
The harmful practice affects millions of women and girls worldwide and it is hoped the step taken by the Secretary of State for Education will get schools talking about FGM before this year’s summer holidays – known as the “cutting season”.
It is estimated that thousands of young girls in the UK could be at risk and Mrs Baird said: “Raising awareness of the illegality of FGM across all our communities is a priority of the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy I launched with my fellow North East Commissioners last December.
“Its aim is to make help more available so when victim-survivors seek help, there is someone who has the necessary training to cope calmly with any disclosure and engage her with support services and a route to safety.
“The priorities in this strategy are not a wish list but will have real measurable actions. There is no place for this barbaric practice, which causes such pain and suffering, in any community or society and I’m delighted the Education Minister has listened to Fahma’s petition. This terrible abuse must be brought to an end.”
Vera Baird took a stand earlier in February against FGM, recognised internationally as a violation of human rights, during the UN International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM on February 6.
Mr Gove, who praised Fahma’s “inspirational” work said he will write to schools before Easter drawing their attention to the guidelines around the issue and reminding them of their duty of care to the girls.
He also agreed to consider how FGM education could be delivered in an age-appropriate way in classrooms.