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Zero Tolerance Day to FGM supported by Commissioner Baird

6th February 2015

Today’s United Nation’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is being supported by Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

The yearly event, held on 6 February, raises awareness of the harmful practice affecting millions of women and girls worldwide.

The United Nations believes more than 140 million women and girls alive today have undergone some kind of FGM. If current trends continue an additional 86 million girls will be subjected to the practice by 2030.

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

Vera Baird said: “A priority of our strategy is to raise awareness of this illegal practice across all our communities.

“This is a severe form of violence against women and girls and we have pledged in our strategy to integrate it into all UK child safeguarding procedures.”

The UN has described FGM as a violation of human rights – an act which can cause severe bleeding as well as various health issues including infertility and complications in childbirth.

“I know collecting evidence and information about this abuse can be difficult for various reasons – child victims would have to give evidence against their family and I do understand the cultural pressure some people can be put under not to make reports,” Mrs Baird said.

“My role as Police and Crime Commissioner and the role of the police is essential in ensuring victims receive the correct support and that action is taken with those people who commit this crime to ensure they are dealt with in an appropriate way.”

Tackling FGM in a step by step programmatic way would, the UN claims, suggest the practice could end in one generation.

Northumbria Police Detective Superintendent Lisa Orchard added: “FGM is a form of abuse which should not be ignored. It can have serious health consequences, which can prove fatal, not to mention the severe psychological trauma caused.

“People should also know it’s a serious criminal offence in the UK which carries a maximum penalty of 14-years in prison.

“I’d urge anyone who suspects this practice is happening in their communities to contact us. Those who also suspect that a child is being taken overseas for the purpose of FGM should also call us.”

Police can be called on 101, or if there is an ongoing crime dial 999.