Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mlountstevens and Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson issued the following statement today (Wednesday 6 February) to mark International Zero Tolerance for FGM day and in response to the council’s Community Cohesion Scrutiny Commission.
"Bristol is becoming known for its work in educating young people, professionals such as nurses or police officers and communities on the dangers of the illegal practice of female genital mutilation. We are proud of the community work that has been done by Refugee Women of Bristol, Integrate Bristol, FORWARD, Daughters of Eve and Platform 51 on this issue.
"Building on much of the constructive work that has taken place we now want to send a very clear message that community engagement, including men and boys, is the best way forward to tackle any ingrained views about the practice and that we will use the law to protect young people at every opportunity.
"We must never lose sight of the fact that FGM is a severe form of child abuse that has lifelong health and emotional consequences and we will continue to work together to eradicate the practice."
The city’s Scrutiny Commission for Community Cohesion and Safety has been examining the subject as a special evidence-based inquiry. It recommended on January 24th that the Mayor of Bristol and the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner make a joint public statement to the effect that FGM will not be tolerated in Bristol and the wider Avon and Somerset area, and discuss how they might jointly support efforts to eliminate the practice of FGM.
Chair of the Scrutiny Commission for Community Cohesion Cllr Jeff Lovell said:
"What was evident throughout the meeting was the desire of commission members to develop a better understanding of the issues around FGM. We had some very in-depth questioning and are now better placed to work with stakeholders to bring forward proposals that will not only deliver solutions for some of the concerns raised but also send a strong message that Bristol City Council will continue to work with communities and various stakeholders to tackle this issue and will not tolerate this disgraceful practice."
Illegal in the UK, FGM involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia and is a cultural practice carried out in more than 28 African countries, some Asian and South American countries and Afghanistan, Iraq and some Kurdish communities.
FGM carries the risk of death from bleeding or tetanus, and long-term problems including urinary incontinence, recurrent infections and chronic pain. Reversal procedures are necessary for childbirth. It is estimated that around 2,000 girls are at risk in Bristol.
The Bristol Safeguarding Children Board has been leading a multi-agency effort for several years to raise awareness of the issue and train professionals to spot signs that a girl might be vulnerable to FGM.
This has included an information campaign which has supported public health funding for a contract for FORWARD to work with community groups, train local advocates, talk to young people, run a drop-in advice centre and provide feedback and training to health workers.
New initiatives and work this year include:
- NHS funding for a young person engagement worker for FORWARD
- NHS Bristol and Platform 51 teaching aid for young people, currently being piloted at four Bristol secondary schools
- Home Office funding gained to develop a new leaflet for Bristol
- Home Office funding for Integrate Bristol to deliver three short films to promote professional and community engagement
Posted on Wednesday 6th February 2013