People urged to contact charity if they have information.
Independent charity Crimestoppers is today launching a campaign tackling the hidden harms caused to young girls and women who are forced to endure Female Genital Mutilation.
There are nearly 140,000 girls and women who are thought to have been affected by FGM, many of whom have had the illegal procedure performed abroad. Worldwide 200 million girls and women are FGM survivors and the procedure is still practiced in at least 28 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
There are no authoritative figures showing the true extent of how many people have been affected in West Mercia, however, it is known that girls are most at risk from undergoing FGM during school holidays when they are taken abroad by parents or family.
Pauline Hadley, Crimestoppers’ Regional Manager for the West Midlands, said: “The awareness campaign has been designed in partnership with other charities and agencies who work on the frontline helping those affected by FGM as this custom tragically still continues. Girls at risk may have an extended summer break from school and may talk about coming back as a `woman’ or mention having to attend a special ceremony.
“We are calling on anyone who knows of a girl who might be about to become a victim or who may know who is doing the cutting to contact Crimestoppers in complete anonymity. We must work together to stop more victims suffering the terrible consequences.”
There are no known health benefits from FGM – only a long list of terrible complications ranging from recurring and chronic infections, haemorrhaging and infertility, in addition to the lasting psychological impact with victims often enduring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder leading to flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety. Ultimately FGM can lead to death.
FGM became a crime in 1985 but since 2003 anyone who takes a child out of the country to have her genitalia cut faces a maximum sentence of up to 14 years. It is still believed to be under-reported with victims often too fearful of family or community reaction to come forward.
Crimestoppers’ campaign will last four weeks and includes a poster campaign in English and Arabic to be specifically placed in settings such as hospitals and clinics across West Mercia. This is designed to utilise frontline NHS professionals such as midwives who are key to detecting and helping to prevent FGM. The campaign will also be accompanied by a targeted local social media. Crimestoppers is urging those with information to report these crimes either directly to the police or by contacting Crimestoppers in complete anonymity.
If you have any information, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.