Lancashire Constabulary is supporting the international day for zero tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM) today.
FGM is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons, also known as ‘female genital cutting’, ‘female circumcision’ or ‘sunna’.
It is estimated that up to 60,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK and 137,000 girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM in the UK.
Tony Baxter, chief inspector at the Public Protection Unit said: “FGM is child abuse and in all circumstances where it is practised it is a violation of the child’s right to life, their right to their bodily integrity, as well as their right to health.
“The numbers of cases of FGM that are brought to the attention of the police are very low. In fact, we have only ever had two cases reported to us directly, however we know it is a hidden problem and one that is under-reported.
“Lancashire Constabulary is committed to working with partner agencies to raise awareness of this crime, to support victims and to prosecute offenders.
“I hope this day will help to raise awareness of the crime and will encourage people who have concerns that they know a child or woman at risk; or who may have had the procedure to come forward, confident in the knowledge that it will be handled professionally and sensitively by our specially trained officers”.
Often social, cultural or religious reasons are given for performing FGM. However, there are no medical reasons for carrying out the procedure, which is dangerous and can leave the victim with severe and long-lasting damage to their physical and emotional health.
It is illegal to practice FGM in the UK, and the penalty for which is a fine and up to 14 years in prison.