Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the Girl Summit
Governments, community leaders, grassroots and organisations from around the world came together at the Girl Summit on Tuesday July 22, 2014, in a bid to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child and forced marriage.
Alice Jones, Violence against Women and Children Champion for Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens represented the PCC at the national event, hosted by UK Government and UNICEF in London.
FGM and child and forced marriage affect millions of women and girls around the world every year, limiting not just their health and rights but having a monumental impact on their future and potential opportunities.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "I am pleased to sign the Girl Summit Charter as a sign of my commitment to tackling these issues in Avon and Somerset. Alongside this I have made a commitment to work with agencies in Avon and Somerset to ensure that we prioritise tackling FGM and work effectively together to both safeguard girls at risk and bring offenders to justice.
"I very much welcome the measures announced by the government as part of the UK’s commitment to the Girl Summit Charter. FGM and forced marriage are particularly difficult crimes to tackle as they tend to happen behind closed doors and victims are terrified of coming forward. By having these new tools the relevant agencies will be better equipped to protect girls from such violations of their human rights."
Throughout the day the summit saw governments and organisations make commitments to tackle these issues. Government ministers including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Secretary announced a wide range of measures at the summit including:
- new police guidance from the College of Policing and an inspection programme by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) that will look at how the police handle cases of FGM
- a consultation on proposals to introduce new civil orders designed to protect girls identified as being at risk of FGM
- new legislation that will mean parents can be prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut
- new legislation to grant victims of FGM lifelong anonymity from the time an allegation is made
- making it mandatory for professionals such as teachers and health workers to report FGM
Speaking after the event Alice Jones said: "It was an honour to attend this event alongside a wide range of influential and inspiring delegates from around the world. The summit was a clear sign that FGM and child and early forced marriage will not be tolerated and that there is wide-ranging commitment to end these practices within a generation. A particular highlight was seeing Integrate Bristol’s video ‘Use your head’ take centre stage; they were great ambassadors for the work taking place in Avon and Somerset."
According to the UK Home Office, it is thought that over 20,000 girls under age 15 could be at risk of FGM in England and Wales and around 66,000 women have experienced FGM during their lifetime.
People are being encouraged to sign an online petition, looking for support in rallying a global movement to end FGM and forced marriage within a generation. Over 5000 people have signed the pledge so far to add your support visit www.girlsummitpledge.com
For more information about the campaign and the event you can also follow @GirlSummit on Twitter.
Posted on Thursday 24th July 2014