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FGM in the North East must be taken seriously says Commissioner

22nd July 2015

Women throughout England and Wales are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), and the North East is no exception, says Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird.

According to research published today (Wednesday, July 22) by City University London and human rights organisation Equality Now – almost one woman in every 1000 in the North East has undergone FGM.

While people born in countries where FGM is practiced tend to be concentrated in urban areas, no local authority area is likely to be free from the practice entirely, the report said.

Commissioner Baird has campaigned to make FGM a priority in the north east region. It is part of the joint north east  ‘Violence Against Women and Girls strategy’ which was launched with fellow north east Police and Crime Commissioners Barry Coppinger, from Cleveland, and Durham’s Ron Hogg in 2013.

Last week Ms Baird welcomed new protection laws, which were introduced by The Ministry of Justice to prevent vulnerable girls being taken abroad to undergo FGM.

The new laws mean anyone who suspects a girl is being taken abroad for FGM can apply for a protection order. If an order is made and subsequently breached, that person will be found guilty of an offence and could face a prison sentence of up to five years.

Commissioner Baird, said: “FGM is a severe form of violence against women and girls and one which must not be ignored. The new laws will help officers stop the abuse in its tracks and ultimately protect those who are most vulnerable.

“While the figures released today are low in the North East compared to other parts of the country such as London and Manchester, one woman in every thousand in our region, is still one woman too many.

“FGM can have serious health consequences both physically and psychologically so I strongly urge anyone who suspects this practice is happening to someone they know to contact the police so they can put an immediate stop to it.

“I will continue to prioritise raising awareness of the illegality of FGM within our community and keep placing pressure on ending this horrific form of violence practiced on women and girls, which has no place in any society.”