Speak out about female genital mutilation

  |  Published: Jul 12th 2017

Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board, Safer and Stronger Bucks Partnership Board and the children and adult Safeguarding Boards alongside Thames Valley Police are raising awareness about female genital mutilation ahead of the summer holidays.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is considered child abuse in the UK and has been illegal for over 30 years.

This is a high risk time of year, when many girls can be taken abroad to have FGM performed so that they can ‘heal’ over the long summer holiday period to try and avoid detection when they return to school.

The aim is that by highlighting the issue it will increase public awareness of FGM and therefore give people the confidence to come forward, particularly in communities where people may find it difficult to speak out.

Martin Tett, Chairman of Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "We are keen to raise awareness of the national and local campaigns which aim to make our communities aware of the issues surrounding FGM, the signs that someone may potentially be a victim, and give them the means and the confidence to report any concerns. Female genital mutilation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board said: "We have a duty to protect children and young people and need to raise awareness of this serious crime. We are asking people to take a few minutes to find out more, so they know what to look out for and how to raise the alarm, as we continue to work closely with partners across the county to prevent and eliminate FGM."

Tackling FGM and protecting victims of this type of abuse is a priority for Thames Valley Police. Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner has said: "It is vital that we continue to raise awareness of FGM and the communities it affects. All organisations which come into contact with children such as health and social care professionals and teachers, have a responsibility to recognise the signs of FGM to prevent young girls becoming victims, as well as report known cases in those under 18 to the police."

Some particular signs to look out for ahead of the summer holidays include:

Indicators that a girl may be at risk of FGM:
• Her parents originate from an FGM-practising country
• She is out of the country for a prolonged period of time
• She is taking a long holiday to her country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent
• She refers to a ‘special procedure’ or ‘special occasion’ or ‘becoming a woman’
• She and her family have a low level of integration into the local community

Indicators that a girl may have experienced FGM:
• She is in pain when walking or sitting or has restricted movement
• She has repeated or prolonged absence from school
• She spends a lot of time in the bathroom or toilet
• She has bladder or menstrual problems
• She is reluctant to undergo medical examinations
• She does not want to participate in Physical Education
• Her behaviour / demeanour has changed

If you think a child is currently at risk of FGM you should make a referral to Children’s Social Care where an appropriate course of action will be taken. If you are worried the risk is immediate, for example, a girl is about to be taken out of the country for FGM, please also call the Police on 999 (or 101 if it is a non-emergency call).

Information about female genital mutilation and how to raise concerns can be found on Buckinghamshire Children Safeguarding Board's website.

Further information and resources are available at:

• Female genital mutilation: The facts (leaflet on FGM)
• Together we can end FGM poster and wallet card
A statement opposing FGM (often known as the health passport) is available in 11 languages and can be taken abroad to explain the criminal status of FGM in the UK. It outlines what FGM is, the legislation and penalties involved and the help and support available

All the resources can be downloaded using the links provided, or email bscb@buckscc.gov.uk and we will provide you with copies free of charge. You can also call the NSPCC anonymously on 0800 028 3550 if you’re worried someone might be a victim of FGM or email them at fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Martin Tett
Martin Tett
Fran Gosling-Thomas
Fran Gosling-Thomas
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