Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Thurrock lends backing to campaign against Female Genital Mutilation

THURROCK Council supported the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Every year, February 6 is internationally recognised as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation led by the United Nations.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines female genital mutilation as comprising all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is extremely painful and has serious health consequences both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life.

The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously, from birth to adulthood.

The practice of FGM is common in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Tens of thousands of women and girls are affected by FGM all over the United Kingdom and it can happen to any woman or girl from any background regardless of age, race, nationality, social class, financial status or sexuality.

Unlike male circumcision, which is legal in the UK, the practice of FGM is a criminal offence. FGM has no health benefits for women or girls and it is therefore recognised as a form of violence against women and girls.

What should you do if you are worried you or someone you know may be at risk of FGM?

Talk to someone you trust, maybe a teacher or a school nurse. They are there to help and protect you. Remember that no-one is allowed to hurt you physically or emotionally, and FGM is illegal in this country.

You can get help by calling the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 for more information or email them at fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

An Essex Police spokesperson said: "FGM is child abuse and all cases will be dealt with by our Child Abuse Investigation Teams. We take FGM very seriously and deal with each individual case sensitively.

"You do not have to wait for a crime to be committed to come and talk to us about your fears. We can take measures to protect you and to prevent you being subjected to FGM and can also refer you to agencies who can support you.

Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order

Since July 2015 it has been possible to obtain a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order through the Family Court.

If you are concerned that someone may be taken abroad for FGM you can apply for a Protection Order. The terms of the order can be flexible and the court can include whatever terms it considers necessary and appropriate to protect the girl or woman.

Our website provides details of FGM Protection Orders: http://www.essex.police.uk/be_safe/fgm.aspx

"We have specialist teams within our force that deal with all cases of FGM and we work alongside our partner agencies to offer help and support to victims of FGM.

DI Caroline Williams from the Essex Police Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) said:

“The child abuse investigation team in Essex Police takes FGM very seriously and the new legislation allows Police and Social care to help prevent this abhorrent crime happening to females. I urge anybody with any information of victims of FGM or potential victims of FGM to contact the Police and Social Care, this information will be treated very sensitively.

“Since the new legislation has come into effect Essex Police has worked in partnership with Social Care, Education, Health and Barnardo’s in cases of FGM. This is a hidden harm which needs to be eradicated.”

We receive support and advice from our partner agencies to support victims of FGM.

The National FGM Centre has expert social workers that go into local authorities such as ourselves, schools and health services to work with staff on FGM cases.

Celia Jeffreys, Barnardo’s Head of the National FGM Centre, said: “Professionals working in major cities are likely to come across FGM cases. It’s a different story elsewhere, where less diverse communities in smaller towns and cities make FGM uncommon.

“Spotting girls at risk or women who’ve already been cut is harder if local authorities don’t always have the necessary specialist skills and knowledge.

“Barnardo’s and the Local Government Assosication (LGA) are working with councils and the communities they serve to help professionals keep girls safe from this harmful, unlawful practice and to provide the right support to them and their families.”

Cllr Bukky Okunade, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for Children’s Social Care, said: “I’m really pleased to be able to fully endorse the work of the FGM Centre nationally and locally here in Thurrock.

“It is excellent that we have staff from National FGM Centre based in the Thurrock Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub supporting our community engagement and zero tolerance stance.”

If you have been affected by FGM or you know someone who is at risk, we encourage you to contact Essex Police. Always dial 999 in an emergency. You can also report concerns to the Central Referral Unit on 101 or report crime anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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