THE risk and cruelty of female genital mutilation (FGM) has been highlighted as part of International Women’s Day.
Deputy Staffordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Sue Arnold is spearheading an awareness campaign, on behalf of PCC Matthew Ellis, in Staffordshire about this often hidden form of child abuse.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
It usually happens between the ages of four and ten and can have serious consequences for a woman’s health and in some instances lead to death.
It is practised in 28 African countries and some in the Middle East and Asia and affects migrant communities in the UK.
Mrs Arnold said: “Female genital mutilation is a hideous crime which almost always goes unreported.
“Around 24,000 girls are currently at risk of FGM across the UK which means this is a problem that cannot be ignored in Staffordshire.
“The Education Secretary recently agreed to write to every school in the country to raise awareness of FGM, which sees young girls go through tremendous pain and suffering.
“This isn’t just a problem for women in affected communities – it’s an issue which we all need to face.”
Staffordshire’s Deputy Chief Constable Jane Sawyers added: “It’s a criminal offence in the UK to perform, or to assist in carrying out, female genital mutilation.”