FGM is illegal in the UK and it’s also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad so FGM can take place. Those who carry out FGM or help the practice take place can face prison sentences of up to 14 years.
Monday February 6 marks International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM and the start of this year’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.
As part of this year’s event, Commander Mak Chishty, National Police Chiefs Council lead for Honour Based Violence, has worked with the Freedom Charity to produce awareness posters (pictured) and is encouraging people to use the hashtag #EndFGM to show support throughout the day.
Det Ch Insp Leanne Pook, who is the force and South West regional lead for FGM, said: “We’ll use all the legislative and safeguarding powers we have to protect girls at risk of this child abuse.
“Each application is carefully considered and brought only in cases where girls are deemed to be at risk. As a pioneering Force for the use of FGMPOs we have shared our experience and guidance nationally and in some cases given specific support to other forces for their applications.
“We have one active FGM investigation ongoing at the moment, but the majority of our work in this area focusses on safeguarding referrals. This means working in partnership with our colleagues in local authorities, health and education to share information and visit and support families with children deemed to be at risk of FGM.
“Zero Tolerance Day is a chance for us to raise awareness of this harmful and unnecessary practice and to reassure communities that we’re working around-the-clock to protect girls and will continue to do so.”
On Zero Tolerance Day, Avon and Somerset Police, along with all statutory and community partners, will be meeting to review a new Bristol FGM strategy, designed to make sure all agencies are in a position to respond to FGM risk referrals and crimes throughout the year, but particularly around the “high-risk” holidays including Easter and the summer break. Police and
Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Tackling domestic and sexual abuse, which includes FGM, and protecting the most vulnerable from harm, continue to be clear priorities for me. “The introduction of FGM Protection Orders marked an important change in legislation and I’m encouraged to hear these powers are being used effectively by the Force and that best practice is being shared with other Forces and organisations across the country.
“FGM is a violation of human rights resulting in lifelong health and emotional consequences and I welcome the continuing partnership efforts to ensure this practice is consigned to history.”