There are an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation in England and Wales.
Today (Monday 6 February 2017) is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and aims to raise awareness of the dangers and work towards putting a stop to it.
Female Genital Mutilation refers to a range of procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Practicing the procedure in the UK, or taking girls out of the country to have it done, is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
The procedure is usually performed at any time between birth up to the age of 15, there are no health benefits but some believe it helps prepare girls for marriage. Sadly, it is practiced in numerous communities across the world and is also happening among communities in the UK. Woman and girls subjected to it can suffer both health consequences and mental health problems.
Detective Inspector Jon Belcher said: “Working together with other agencies and support groups, we need to continue to raise awareness of female genital mutilation within affected communities and provide support and intervention to those having undergone the procedure or those at risk in order to break the cycle of this barbaric practice. We encourage anyone with any information to contact us.
“It’s a social misconception that this happens only in big towns and cities, it happens everywhere. By talking more and letting people know their options for getting help and advice, we hope that those affected by female genital mutilation and those at risk feel more confident to come forward to the police and support agencies.”
A girl at immediate risk of the procedure may not know what’s going to happen, but she might talk about:
· Being taken ‘home’ to an female genital mutilation practicing country to visit family
· Confiding in someone about having a ‘special procedure’
If you have been affected by this or you know someone who is at risk, please contact the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency) or visit this page.
If you don’t want to speak directly to police you can contact the independent charity, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-org.uk. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
The following support agencies can also offer help and advice:
0800 5999 247
(Operates between 9-5 Monday to Friday – outside of these hours please call police on 101)