Published: Thursday, 13 July 2017
If you help facilitate female genital mutilation – you are breaking the law. That’s the message from West Mercia Police, ahead of schools breaking up for the summer holidays in the next week or so.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that is carried out in some cultures, with some families taking their female relatives abroad to have the harmful and life-changing procedure carried out. FGM is carried out for cultural, religious and social reasons within families and communities where it is believed to be a necessary preparation for adulthood and marriage. However, the procedures are not medically necessary.
Not only is carrying out FGM in the UK against the law, it is also illegal to facilitate a child being taken abroad to have the procedure carried out.
Detective Inspector Jon Belcher said: “Put simply, female genital mutilation is child abuse. It is a tortuous crime that inflicts needless pain and abuse on young women, physically and psychologically damaging them for life.
“It’s easy to assume that FGM is the type of crime that only happens abroad, but more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk every year.”
Ahead of the summer break, police are also asking both teachers and the public to be alert to the possibility that families they know could be planning on taking girls away to have the procedure carried out.
Detective Jon Belcher added: “Because of its nature, FGM can be a hidden crime, one that is quite hard to detect. That’s why we’re urging anyone who has concerns for a girl about to be subject to FGM to get in touch, so we can stop this horrific crime from being inflicted on them.
"We continue to work closely with partners including children’s services, health, education, and local safeguarding boards, so we can protect children from this horrendous crime.
“If you hear of a girl talking about being taken away during the summer for a special holiday, or if the child seems nervous or withdrawn as the break approaches, it’s important you speak out."
Find out more about FGM here.
To report a concern about FGM, contact police on 101.