Be aware of the signs of FGM and help protect local girls
Did you know that unfortunately there tends to be a rise in cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at this time of year? The main reason is that girls can be made to go through the procedure before or during the school holidays so they can recover during the time away from school.
Female Genital Mutilation is illegal in the UK and we can all play a part in spotting the signs of this brutal form of abuse of girls and young women.
It’s important that people have the confidence to raise any fears they might have, particularly in communities where people may find it difficult to speak out.
Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board, alongside Thames Valley Police, the Safer and Stronger Bucks Partnership Board and the children and adult safeguarding boards want to reassure people that any concerns will be treated in the strictest of confidence and will be acted upon.
Common signs to be aware of at this time of year include:
- A girl’s parents originating from an FGM practising country and she says she is going abroad for a prolonged period of time.
- A girl referring to a ‘special procedure’ or ‘special occasion’ or ‘becoming a woman’
- The girl and her family having a low level of integration into the local community
Indicators a girl may have experienced FGM include:
- showing signs of being in pain
- having restricted movement, being off school,
- taking a long time in the bathroom and toilet and
- a reluctance to take part in physical activity.
Martin Tett, Chair of Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board said:
“This is not an easy topic to have to think about but it’s for the safety of girls in our communities that we have to confront it. I urge anyone, particularly people who work closely with children and girls to be vigilant for the signs of Female Genital Mutilation and to speak out about any concerns you might have. It’s an inhumane practice and it can cause severe problems and considerable pain – we all have a duty to be aware of the signs and to act to protect vulnerable and innocent young women and girls.”
Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:
” I hope that by giving out this information that people feel more able to spot the signs of Female Genital Mutilation and know how to do something about it if they are worried about anyone. FGM is a horrific procedure, often performed by people with no medical training without using medical equipment or anaesthetic. It’s truly shocking and we want to do all we can to prevent any girls being subjected to this terrible ordeal.”
Detective Superintendent Nicholas John from Thames Valley Police said:
“FGM is a form of child abuse. There is no medical reason to carry out the procedure and it is dangerous and is a criminal offence in the UK.
Anyone who reports any concerns can do so in a safe and confidential way. I especially urge anyone who works closely with girls and young women to make themselves aware of the signs of FGM and to know what to do if they have any suspicions.”
If you think a child is at risk of FGM you can report it to the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board. If you think a child is at immediate risk of FGM, for example, if she’s about to be taken out of the country, you can report your concerns to the police via the non-emergency number 101 or by dialling 999 in an emergency.