Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Detective Chief Inspector Leanne Pook from Public Protection
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens is supporting the annual summer campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) across Avon and Somerset.
The campaign, which launches tomorrow (Tuesday June 11), highlights partnership working in Avon and Somerset in a bid to highlight the procedure which is illegal in the UK and to ensure that the message is clear - FGM will not be tolerated in our communities.
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.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Tackling violence against women and children is one of my key priorities highlighted in the Police and Crime Plan and forms the heart of the work carried out by many specialist organisations across Avon and Somerset.
"Female Genital Mutilation is an illegal and violent form of child abuse that has lifelong health and emotional implications. I am extremely supportive of the work already underway to explore and address FGM as an issue within our communities. It is imperative that we continue to raise understanding and awareness of this unacceptable and illegal practice."
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.
Detective Inspector Katie Boxer said: "We are pleased to be involved in this project and continue to work with our partners and support all the work taking place to raise awareness of this painful and unnecessary practice.
"FGM is a form of child abuse that can have significant long term effects on victims and it is important we all work together to eradicate it. Our priorities are first and foremost the protection of those at risk of FGM and the prevention of this form of abuse. We continue to support our partners with education and prevention and we will act promptly where concerns are raised and where there is evidence of any crime we will act to enforce the law.
"FGM is often not spoken about but it should be as it is a very serious crime which we take extremely seriously."
DI Boxer added: "We are here to support our communities and we urge any young women who are at risk to come forward and let us know so we can help you. We understand this is hard but we alongside our partners understand and can help."
Lisa Zimmerman who works with Integrate and said: "We are so proud of all the work we have done and the changes that are happening, especially in Bristol.
"Only four years ago, most of us couldn't even talk about FGM and now we have more than one hundred young people working with us when we started with only four! We have girls and boys from four different schools working together and more and more teachers are supporting us.
"When all schools are including FGM and VAWG in PSHEE and Health and Social Care lessons, we will have achieved one of our aims. One way or another, we will continue to campaign for gender equality and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls, including FGM."
A series of events are being held from Tuesday (June 11) attended by police, partners, experts on the issue, and community representatives. Information will be available from a range of health and social care organisations and community groups. For more information you can visit: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/419465438160439/
Event: FGM Summer Campaign Launch Event
Date: Tuesday 11th June
Time: 4pm -6 pm
Location: Junction 3 library Baptist Mills Easton
Event: A family awareness day: Talking together to end FGM
Date: Saturday 22nd June
Time: 12pm -5pm
Location: Easton Community Centre
Event: 'My Normal Life': A play by Integrate Bristol
Date: Saturday 29th June
Location: The Station, Silver Street Bristol
Time: Doors open at 1pm
For more information about FGM and Violence Against Women and Girls please visit http://www.bava.org.uk/types-of-abuse/female-genital-mutilation/
Posted on Monday 10th June 2013