Female genital mutilation is rife in our community with more than 2,000 girls at risk of becoming victims to this illegal practice, claims Manchester police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd.
Although FGM is against the law, an estimated 6,500 girls are subjected to the ‘barbaric’ practice each year in the UK, with Greater Manchester identified as one of six hotspots.
PCC Lloyd, who has made tackling FGM one of his priorities and has backed a campaign to teach children in schools about the risks, said it was ‘tantamount to child abuse’.
He added: “This is a way of saying to women in our society that they don’t have to accept the practice of FGM — the police are there to help them.
“It’s shocking to think that, across Greater Manchester, we are one of the areas in the country with the highest levels of risk, so we have got to take action against this.”
As part of the campaign, Greater Manchester Police, health services and all 10 councils have signed up to support victims and educate those who work with vulnerable children.
The region-wide pledge against the practice was launched at Bury Town Hall on Wednesday.
Cllr Mike Connolly, leader of Bury Council, said: “Female genital mutilation is very much a Greater Manchester issue.
“It’s happening right on our door step and we all have a role to play in safeguarding victims from this harmful and illegal practice.”
In the past three days police at Manchester Airport have intercepted 20 families, mostly on flights from Africa.
Greater Manchester Police are currently investigating cases in Wigan and Bury as well as reports of girls at risk in Trafford.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs and is often carried out without anaesthetic.
The practice is most prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and parts of the Middle East, but due to immigration and refugee movements, now takes place internationally amongst ethnic minorities.
This disfigurement of young girls and women is commonly justified with cultural, religious or social reasons, however, it is not a religious requirement or obligation for any faith.
Globally, most Muslims do not practice FGM. It is not condoned by the Christian or Jewish teachings, or the Bible or Torah.
According to Equality Now, it is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation.
Dangers include severe bleeding, tetanus, psychological trauma, infertility and increased risk of deaths in childbirth.
In December 2012, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for all member states to ban FGM.
Image courtesy of Greater Manchester Police, via Flickr, with thanks