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Violence against women isn’t always visible. Commissioner raises awareness of FGM

04 February 2022

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, wants to raise the profile of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in order to prevent more women and girls suffering this lesser known form of violence. The 6th February marks the United Nations sponsored annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. 

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “When we think of Violence against Women and Girls, we often think of offences such as domestic abuse and serious sexual offences like rape, however many women and girls are also suffering as a result of hidden harms such as interfamilial abuse in the home and traditional cultural practices such as FGM.

“Whilst FGM is not hitting the headlines in the same way as rape and sexual assaults it is no less traumatic for the victims.

“It is important that we raise awareness and understanding of these harmful practices, that we support and empower community groups and develop education and training programmes so we can identify those at risk and prevent more girls from these damaging procedures.”

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is also known as female circumcision or cutting. Those who undertake and support this practice believe it is beneficial and is in a girl or woman’s best interests.

The Commissioner funds specialist service providers (Stop Domestic Abuse and Yellow Door) to work with communities to build trust and confidence, prevent incidents, support victims/survivors and increase professionals’ knowledge of FGM and harmful cultural practices. The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Frankie Worker Service also supports young people under 18 who are victims of FGM.

To Mark No Tolerance Day a community event was held at MAST theatre in Southampton on Friday 4th Feb (11am-3pm) and FGM training for professionals being run by Portsmouth Safeguarding Adults Board on Thursday 10th Feb at 10am.

Healthcare providers in England, including acute hospital providers, mental health providers and GP practices, saw 5,395 individual women and girls where FGM was identified in the period April 2020 to March 2021.

Short term health risks of FGM include severe pain, excessive bleeding (haemorrhage), shock, genital tissue swelling: due to inflammatory response or local infection and psychological consequences such as trauma. Long term health risks include chronic and recurring infections, difficulties menstruating, complications during childbirth, pain and psychological consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and depression.