PCC Sue Mountstevens and Acting Chief Constable John Long with Constabulary officers and staff
Today (6 February) marks the United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and is being supported by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens.
Across the globe, campaigners are working to bring an end to FGM by raising awareness of the practice and the devastating effects it has on victims.
What is FGM?
FGM stands for female genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation is the illegal practise of female circumcision or cutting involving the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs.
FGM is a form of child abuse that happens in some African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities in the UK.
There is no medical reason for FGM and it can have serious health and psychological consequences, both at the time of the procedure and well into adulthood.
- Over 140 millions girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM
- FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15
- Around 137,000 girls and women living in England and Wales have undergone FGM
- It's estimated that 60,000 girls under the age of 15 living in the UK are at risk
- FGM causes severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections and infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths
Violence against Women and Children: a priority for Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens
PCC Sue Mountstevens has made tackling violence against women and children a priority in the police and crime plan and an important part of this is ending female genital mutilation (FGM).
During her time in office the PCC has been committed to raising awareness of the practice of FGM and its dangers, increasing and encouraging reporting and promoting a greater understanding of the prevalence of FGM.
The PCC’s dedication to tackling FGM includes having a national voice, for example by signing the Girl Summit Charter as part of a global movement in a bid to end FGM, help and support for local awareness raising campaigns and encouraging schools teaching the risks of FGM.
In addition to this, in July 2014 the PCC submitted evidence to a Home Affairs Select Committee report entitled ‘Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan’ where she raised Avon and Somerset wide issues which were subsequently included in the final report.
The publication of the report came one month following a Home Office and NSPCC poster campaign helping communities to protect girls and young women from FGM to which PCC Sue Mountstevens gave her support.
More recently Sue Mountstevens was invited to speak about ‘delivering collaborative leadership across statutory agencies to drive forward community-wide engagement’ at a national conference on Tackling Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM.
This was just one of several national conferences that the PCC has been invited to join other key speakers to share her experience and expertise on the subject, one of the first conferences, held in Bristol focused on Sharing Good Practice to End FGM.
The PCC is committed to working with partners; health, education and the police in order to raise awareness of FGM and to encourage reporting of this crime.
Throughout the rest of her tenure violence against women and children in particular FGM will continue to be a focus for the PCC and the police as part of the Police and Crime Plan. To see all of the initiatives with a focus on tackling FGM that PCC Sue Mountstevens is involved with visit www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk
What's being done to #EndFGM in the Avon and Somerset force area?
Across the Avon and Somerset force area, police are working hard with partners in health, social care, education, and with local communities, to protect those at risk from this form of abuse and to enforce the law against people involved in carrying out female genital mutilation.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary actively support local campaign groups with their efforts to raise awareness of FGM – including the #UseYourHead music video from Integrate Bristol which starred officers from our local neighbourhood teams and mounted section.
Officers and staff also take part in a number of local and national conferences to share expertise to help end FGM, such the ‘Sharing Good Practice to End FGM’ event held in Bristol last October.
Avon and Somerset Detective Chief Inspector Leanne Pook, force and South West regional lead for FGM, has recently been recognised for her efforts in the fight to end FGM. Leanne received the ‘Thanks for Supporting the Sector’ prize at the Voscur awards ceremony in Bristol last year. The young people who nominated her described Leanne’s support as the reason why "many young people understand and really believe that the police are there to help and support, they are on our side, not against us."
There are many ways you can help raise awareness of FGM, including showing support for the end FGM campaigns running across social media. Search for the hashtags #EndFGM, #TogetherForZero on twitter to find out more.
The charity Safe Hands For Mothers have launched three short films, Now That You Know, Say No To FGM, funded by the Home Office and the British Humane Association.
The three films offer a unique insight into reactions to the subject of FGM. Films one and two see young men and young women learning about FGM. Their reaction to what they see and hear says it all. The final film features a group of professionals talking about the importance of eliminating this harmful and illegal practice in the UK.
Watch and share the videos below:
Reporting FGM to the police
Avon and Somerset Police take reports of Female Genital Mutilation very seriously.
If you feel you are at risk, are suffering from the effects of FGM, suspect a child may be at risk or have any information at all relating to suspected acts of FGM, the police would prefer to speak to you on the phone (by calling 101) or in person.
However, if contacting via online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete a secure online reporting form.
To find out more about female genital mutilation, the law and our priorities around FGM, visit the advice pages. Further information, translated into several languages, is available from the BAVA (Bristol Against Violence and Abuse) website.
Posted on Friday 6th February 2015