Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, is backing a campaign to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) across the county.
The multi-agency awareness campaign is being funded by Northamptonshire Police and is timed to coincide with the run-up to the summer holidays, when children may be at a higher risk of being taken abroad to have FGM carried out.
It aims to send out a very clear message: FGM is child abuse and we all have a duty to report any concerns that a child is at risk.
FGM is recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad for FGM or to help someone trying to do this.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre publish monthly statistics on FGM, which show that between September 2014 and March 2015, 3,963 newly identified cases were reported in England. Northampton General Hospital recorded 30 cases of FGM in this time.
Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“It is extremely important that we take a proactive approach to protecting those who may be vulnerable to crime, and raising awareness around Female Genital Mutilation will be key to helping to prevent a horrific act that has such a devastating impact on victims.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner I’m committed to ensuring that all public services are working together to protect children and young people. We must all make sure that FGM is understood as child abuse and illegal.”
Assistant Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Rachel Swann, commented:
“FGM is abuse and violence against girls and women. It’s illegal in the UK and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
“A new mandatory reporting duty for FGM was introduced last year, requiring regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in girls under-18 to the police.
“It’s essential that everybody, including teachers, doctors and other professionals, understand the warning signs that a girl might be at risk. We all need to do everything we can to protect girls and prevent this harmful and unlawful practice.”
Emma Hildreth, Communities Manager for Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire County Council, added:
“Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is extremely harmful with devastating health consequences for girls and women. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result.
“Others who have undergone FGM are also likely to find it difficult to give birth and many also suffer long-term psychological trauma.
“We should all support a zero-tolerance approach to FGM and do all we can to protect our children and support those whose lives have been affected by it.”
Key signs people are being asked to look out for are:
- A family making plans to go on holiday/ requested leave from school;
- a child talking about a forthcoming special celebration where they will ‘become a woman’ or similar comments;
- FGM has taken place within the family in the past; and
- girls who have had the procedure performed will often avoid exercise on their return to school, ask to go to the toilet more often, find it hard to sit still for long periods or may have further time off school due to problems related to the procedure.
If you are concerned that a girl is at risk of FGM, this is a child protection issue and must be reported immediately by calling the Northamptonshire Child Safeguarding Team on 0300 126 1000.
Further help and advice can be obtained by speaking to: