CAMPAIGN TO END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
THE risk and cruelty of female genital mutilation (FGM) is being highlighted in Staffordshire to mark International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8.
As deputy police and crime commissioner I’m spearheading an awareness campaign, on behalf of commissioner Matthew Ellis, in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent about this often hidden form of child abuse.
FGM, sometimes called female circumcision, involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It usually happens between the ages of four and ten and can have serious consequences for a woman’s health and in some instances lead to death.
It is practised in 28 African countries and some in the Middle East and Asia and affects migrant communities in the UK.
Female genital mutilation is a hideous crime which almost always goes unreported.
Around 24,000 girls are currently at risk of FGM across the UK which means that this is a problem that cannot be ignored in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
The Education Secretary recently agreed to write to every school in the country to raise awareness of FGM, which sees young girls go through tremendous pain and suffering.
This isn’t just a problem for women in affected communities – it’s an issue which we all need to face.
I will be announcing details soon of a conference in Staffordshire for bring agencies together and raise awareness so this serious issue can be tackled.
Staffordshire’s deputy chief constable Jane Sawyers added: “It’s a criminal offence in the UK to perform, or to assist in carrying out, female genital mutilation. Anyone found guilty could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
“The force is committed to tackling and preventing this harmful and unacceptable practice and we have a number of officers who have received specialist training, commissioned by Stoke-on-Trent’s Safeguarding Board, to deal with FGM cases.
“We do understand the difficulties faced by victims in reporting these crimes given they are often organised by close relatives.
“We would, however, urge anyone with information – particularly professionals such teachers and doctors – to report their concerns to us so that we can deal with them.”
Justine Eardley-Dunn, chief executive of North Staffordshire charity Savana, which supports victims of domestic and sexual violence, added: “Genital mutilation is everyone’s business. We all have a part to play in ensuring that the practice is eradicated worldwide.
“Savana hears the voices of those who have experienced or who are affected by this form of sexual violence. We are pleased to work together at a local level with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to help to educate the people of Staffordshire so that we can support those who are affected and prevent further victims.”
- Victims can get help or more information by calling the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3500 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org