Teachers, nurses, doctors and social workers will be given extra training to identify and help girls who might be at risk of becoming victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The measures will see new guidance for professionals become part of compulsory training in public sector organisations.
“People feel like they don’t have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will set out a package of measures to tackle FGM at a summit this week.
The plan will involve supporting a small network of “community champions” to encourage volunteers who want to provide help in areas affected by FGM.
Mr Clegg will tell the Girl Summit that: “Female genital mutilation is one of the oldest and the most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of generations of young women and girls.
“We’re currently failing thousands of girls and must act now to help put a stop to FGM,” he is due to say.
“Central to tackling it are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk of FGM.
“They agree that, without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don’t have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they’re worried someone is vulnerable.
“The UK government will be introducing new training and guidance for front-line public sector workers to help recognise the signs of FGM abuse and prevent more women and girls getting cut,” Mr Clegg will say.
“Nurses have a vital role to play in ending this practice that affects the lives of thousands in the UK and beyond”
The expected announcement was welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “Controlling the lives and bodies of young women and girls through FGM has no place in modern Britain and the government’s work to put a stop to it is to be commended.
“Nurses have a vital role to play in ending this practice that affects the lives of thousands in the UK and beyond.
“The RCN has worked with the government on the development of training and guidance to help equip frontline staff with the skills they need to tackle this most sensitive of issues,” he said.
“Nurses are dedicated to protecting their young female patients from this harm and will continue to support any initiatives that aim to do so,” he added.
Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the RCM, said: “These are positive steps and ones that will contribute to stopping this terrible practice.
“However, all these things have to be backed up with resources and commitment across public services, such as ensuring staff have access to the mandatory training,” she said.
“Midwives are one of the key frontline healthcare professions in detecting and helping to prevent female genital mutilation. As such, we need to ensure that they have time and resources to be able to do this effectively.”