Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and Avon and Somerset Constabulary have been involved in a series of events in Bristol this week to highlight the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Today (6/2) marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM - which refers to the removal or partial removal of a female’s genitalia, or damage to the genital organs for supposed cultural, religious or non-medical reasons.
Chief Constable Nick Gargan, PCC Sue Mountstevens and Det Ch Insp Leanne Pook, Force lead on FGM, will be attending an event at The City Academy this afternoon (6/2), organised by the charity Integrate Bristol.
The event will feature dancers and the performance of a song specially penned by students to raise awareness of FGM. The Chief Constable will be presenting students with certificates to commend their work.
Gill Kelly, Principal of The City Academy, said: “We are proud of the efforts and the wonderful pioneering work that many of our students do alongside Integrate Bristol. They are leading the country in raising awareness and promoting education around female genital mutilation.”
Integrate Bristol is currently working with more than 100 young people who are aiming to persuade other schools and the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to ensure schools teach students the risks of FGM before the summer holidays. They have launched an appeal through www.change.org and The Guardian newspaper, fronted by Fahma Mohamed from Bristol, which has already amassed more than 28,000 supporters.
Other FGM awareness events held this week include:
- The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders visited The City Academy on Monday (3/2) to watch a lesson on FGM. The DPP spoke to students and met representatives from the Integrate charity and police.
- A youth conference called ‘FGM is Everybody’s Business’ will be held by the charity FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) at the Muller Hall in Seymour Road, Easton, on Saturday (8/2).
Det Ch Insp Leanne Pook said: “Female genital mutilation is an extremely serious crime and must never be tolerated.
“We know FGM is under-reported in the Avon and Somerset area, as well as nationally, and our Force priorities are to protect victims from this vile form of abuse, promote education of the issue to help increase awareness among the public and improve relationships with communities where women and girls are at risk of FGM.
“The DPP was very impressed with the work being done across the city to tackle this issue and we are working closely with the CPS and other partner agencies to tackle the problems of under-reporting and ensure any offenders are brought to justice.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I have made tackling violence against women and children a priority here in Avon and Somerset so to hear what is being done to tackle FGM is very important to me.
“I am pleased to be able to say that this year I have funded a prevalence report in Bristol. For the first time we can understand the true picture of FGM in our city and can then bring together the relevant people together to discuss the findings.
“Avon and Somerset Constabulary and I also plan to send a joint response to the Home Affairs Select Committee for their enquiry into FGM. This is an important development as we will have greater opportunity to make progress nationally.
“We are fortunate to have some incredible people in Avon and Somerset who are willing to share their emotional stories to help others and dedicate their time to preventing this abhorrent crime.
“We need everyone to understand that FGM is child abuse and take a stand against it. As soon as everyone understands that it is child abuse, and nothing less, we will then be able to bring FGM to an end.”
If anyone has information on this issue, please call us via the 24-hour number 101.
For more information on Integrate Bristol visit www.integratebristol.org.uk or for information on FORWARD visit www.forwarduk.org.uk
Posted on Thursday 6th February 2014