Female Genital Mutilation Awareness Campaign
The general awareness raising campaign is currently underway with the strapline 'FGM is child abuse'.
This multi-agency campaign is aimed at educating practitioners and the general public in the signs to look out for which may indicate a child is at risk of FGM, particularly in the run-up to the school holidays, or what is known colloquially as ‘the cutting season’.
Key signs people are being asked to look out for are:
- The family belongs to a community that practises FGM
- The family are making plans to go on holiday / requested leave from school
- The child talks about a forthcoming special celebration
- If FGM has taken place within the child’s family in the past
A girl who has had FGM may:
- have difficulty walking, sitting or standing
- spend longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
- have unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
- be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
- ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
This campaign sets out to reinforce knowledge of mandatory reporting and to clearly list reporting pathways including the IPV helpline and the multi-agency support available. It also attempts to send out a very clear message: FGM will not be tolerated in this county and we are extremely serious about tackling it.
Groups being targeted include teachers, friends and friends’ parents, community groups, frontline workers and the general public.
If you suspect someone may have had FGM performed on them or is about to have the procedure is it Mandatory to report you concerns. More information on Mandatory Reporting can be found here.
If you think FGM may have taken place or be about to take place you must report it immediately as you would any other form of child abuse.
- You must inform your designated safeguarding lead.
- A referral must be completed to Northamptonshire Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
- In urgent cases, contact the police direct using 999 or 101.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal to practise FGM in the UK, illegal to take girls who are British Nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM - whether or not it is lawful in that country - and illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad.
Assistant Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Rachel Swann, said:
“FGM is abuse and violence against girls and women. It’s illegal in the UK and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
“A new mandatory reporting duty for FGM was introduced last year, requiring regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in girls under-18 to the police.
“It’s essential that everybody, including teachers, doctors and other professionals, understand the warning signs that a girl might be at risk. We all need to do everything we can to protect girls and prevent this harmful and unlawful practice.”
The Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, said:
“It is extremely important that we take a proactive approach to protecting those who may be vulnerable to crime, and raising awareness around Female Genital Mutilation will be key to helping to prevent a horrific act that has such a devastating impact on victims.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner I’m committed to ensuring that all public services are working together to protect children and young people. We must all make sure that FGM is understood as child abuse and illegal."
Last updated: 23 September 2020