‘Please help me end this hideous horror of hidden crime against girls’
I’m spearheading an awareness campaign as 24,000 youngsters across the UK are at risk of the “unspeakable cruelty” of female genital mutilation (FGM).
As Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner, I’m organising a conference later in the summer which will bring agencies together to debate, engage and raise awareness – so that strong and effective partnerships can be formed to tackle the serious issue.
It’s a criminal offence in the UK to perform, or to assist in carrying out, female genital mutilation which tends to be perpetrated on girls between the ages of four and ten – and can lead to serious consequences for a woman’s health and, in some instances, prove fatal.
FGM – a hidden form of child abuse – involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is common in 28 African countries plus some in the Middle East and Asia but now also affects migrant communities in the UK.
Female genital mutilation is a hideous crime which almost always goes unreported. Any violence against women and girls is abhorrent, and FGM is one of the worst examples
Around 24,000 girls are currently at risk of FGM across the UK which means this is a problem that cannot be ignored in Staffordshire.
The Education Secretary recently agreed to write to every school in the country to raise awareness of FGM, which sees young girls go through unspeakable cruelty – being inflicted with 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.
Despite being a traditional practice in some Middle Eastern and African countries, the practice has been illegal in the UK since 1985.
Sadly though a lot of victims do not realise it’s a crime, so we need to raise awareness about it and help the police and Crown Prosecution Service crack down on the problem.
Staffordshire Police is committed to tackling and preventing this harmful and unacceptable practice and has a number of specialist FGM officers commissioned by Stoke-on-Trent’s Safeguarding Board.
I first raised the matter on International Women’s Day and signed a petition set up by 17-year-old Fahma Mohamed calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to increase awareness on the subject in the school system.
Speakers at the conference – being held at Staffordshire County Showground on Tuesday, September 9 – include specialist midwife Alison Byrne; North West London NHS sexual health clinician Hodo Ali; head of West Midlands Regional Crown Court Suzanne Llewellyn and Roz Randall, specialist education safeguarding trainer with Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board.