Derbyshire’s Deputy PCC Hardyal Dhindsa today (Saturday) called for more attention to be given to a form of child abuse affecting thousands of young girls in the UK as the country marks a global women’s rights celebration.
An estimated 24,000 young girls in the UK are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) however the true reality of the problem is unknown because few cases are ever reported to police. Mr Dhindsa said more education was needed around the lethal practice to help protect vulnerable girls and empower those in authority whether in a health, police or education setting to recognise the risks and take action.
Mr Dhindsa’s comments came on International Women’s Day – an annual event which honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates the achievements of women worldwide and reminds the public of the inequalities still to be addressed.
The Deputy PCC said FGM needed to be tackled urgently to prevent more young women from harm. He has signed a petition calling for more education on the problem before the so-called school holiday ‘cutting season’ in July.
“Currently, FGM is often an unpunished crime because very few victims ever come forward. We know there are some 24,000 young girls at risk of this violent practice and it’s our responsibility to ensure those working around them are educated to recognise the signs and risk factors to protect them,” he said.
“We need to get everyone talking about this lethal form of child abuse so that it’s recognised as a crime and vulnerable young girls are empowered to report it to police.”
Derbyshire is not identified as being at higher incidence risk than elsewhere in the country. However, Mr Dhindsa points out that unless people have the confidence to report such a crime, we really don’t know the true scale of the problem. He is highlighting the issue so that the public understand that it is a crime that should be reported to police.
The Deputy PCC held a workshop for partner organisations in January aimed at educating those who could come into contact with potential victims to spot the risk signs and take safeguarding action.
FGM was criminalised 28 years ago however they have yet to be any prosecutions in the UK. It is hoped that this will soon change with the first prosecution in Britain for this offence expected to come to court within weeks.
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Posted on Saturday 8th March 2014