A Manchester child protection charity have praised the Manchester Airport campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM), after thousands of cases were reported earlier this year.
Specialist officers spoke to hundreds of families and monitored more than 100 flights at Manchester Airport in August as part of a week-long campaign to raise awareness of FGM.
Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) are a UK charity who work in Manchester to provide a range of prevention and early intervention projects and services for the black/African community in the North West.
Rose Ssali, 40, project co-ordinator and FGM head for the Manchester branch, is hopeful that the campaigns will be effective in raising awareness about FGM to countries of ‘high prevalence’.
She told MM: “The campaigns at Manchester Airport were very beneficial because any awareness adds value to communities’ knowledge of the impact and repercussions of the practice.
“The campaign was specifically targeting flights to countries of high prevalence.
“Chances are people will get an opportunity to know about FGM through the FGM leaflets provided and seek support and help.”
New NHS figures released this month show that more than 1,000 newly recorded cases of FGM were seen in England between April and June of this year.
Among these were nine cases found to include girls under 18-years-old.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons.
It is most prevalent in countries in mid and northern Africa and parts of Asia but remains illegal in the UK and can carry imprisonment for up to 14 years.
Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson from Greater Manchester Police said: “The two operations that have taken place during the summer period have provided us with an excellent opportunity to speak directly with families travelling abroad.
“[In order] to raise awareness, improve their [families] understanding of what it is, and the consequences of such activity.”
Minister for preventing abuse and exploitation Karen Bradley said: “The work of the police and Border Force’s safeguarding teams is vital in our fight to end FGM.”
AFRUCA released a report earlier this year entitled ‘Voices of the Community’ which found a lack of education regarding FGM across Greater Manchester.
To combat this, the charity launched a ‘Youth Champion Project’ where young people act as ‘Anti-FGM Youth Champions’ to raise awareness in the community.
The report found that children are being taken back to their countries of origin to have FGM procedures done, particularly in the summer holidays.
Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders, introduced in July, enables authorities to seize passports from those suspected of taking girls abroad for mutilation.
Superintendent Rawlinson said: “It is essential that our communities fully understand that FGM is child abuse, and that it is a criminal offence whether the procedure is carried out here or abroad.
“As a Force we will continue to work hard with partners to educate our communities, prevent children from being harmed in this way and bring those responsible for such offending to justice.
“I would urge anyone who suspects that a child is at risk of FGM to contact the police immediately.”
For full guidelines on honour-based abuse, FGM and the law please visit the Home Office website.
Anyone with concerns is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Image courtesy of DFID – UK Department For International Development, with thanks.