Arrests made at unregistered school over FGM concerns
Posted: Fri, 13th May 2022
The National Secular Society has expressed shock that female genital mutilation has been suspected at an unregistered school.
Police investigated the school in Birmingham on Tuesday after Ofsted inspectors raised concerns about "possible illegal practices".
The inspectors found a locked room with a bed and medical equipment at the unregistered school, according to Mail Online. Police said two men had been arrested on suspicion of being involved in female genital mutilation.
A third man was arrested yesterday as part of the investigation. All three men have been bailed with "strict conditions".
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
All forms of FGM are illegal in the UK.
A 2015 study estimated that around 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM. It also found that around 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM.
It is illegal to run a full-time school without registering it with the Department for Education.
However, some religious groups operate unregistered schools in order to prioritise religious inculcation while avoiding scrutiny under the independent school standards.
This enables unregistered faith schools to teach a strictly religion-only curriculum, including extremist content, and to subject children to harmful activities including corporal punishment.
On Tuesday a bill was announced in the Queen's Speech that would give the government greater powers to tackle unregistered schools.
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "We've known for a long time that unregistered schools expose children to harm. But the idea that children may be subjected to female genital mutilation at these schools is horrific and disturbing on a whole new level.
"FGM is a barbaric and torturous procedure that causes lifelong pain and suffering.
"This shocking incident demonstrates a much more robust approach to illegal schooling and harmful cultural practices is necessary to uphold the human rights of children, particularly those growing up in insular religious communities."
What the NSS stands for
The Secular Charter outlines 10 principles that guide us as we campaign for a secular democracy which safeguards all citizens' rights to freedom of and from religion.