South Yorkshire Police backs 'zero tolerance day' for female genital mutilation

DI Suzanne Jackson, of South Yorkshire Police
DI Suzanne Jackson, of South Yorkshire Police

Police chiefs in South Yorkshire are today supporting the national zero tolerance day for female genital mutilation.

The force is using the day to highlight its stance on the illegal procedure and to raise awareness of the support available for victims regardless of when or where they were mutilated in the name of culture and tradition.

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Temporary Detective Inspector Suzanne Jackson said: "Our aim remains putting a stop to FGM and working with our partners to highlight how this offence makes victims feel, and the help and specialist support that is available.

"FGM is often carried out on victims who do not understand what, or why the procedure is taking place. The decision has more than often been made from them due historic cultural beliefs and traditions.

"It can be because of these historic beliefs victims feel peer pressure from friends and family, who make them feel isolated or unclean for not complying with the procedure.

"This can leave victims experiencing emotions of shame and lack of family honour, leading to individuals undergoing the illegal procedure and being left to suffer the mental and physical life changing effects."

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She added: "Along with the physical trauma victims experience from FGM, they are also left to suffer the psychological effects and concerns of dignity, pride, shame, marriage and childbirth later in life.

"No one should be made to feel this way and I would like to offer my reassurance that help and support is available to anyone who needs it. Whether you are a victim, suspect someone is at risk of being a victim, or have concerns that pressure is placed on an individual, there is help available.

"As well as highlighting the help available, we have also been working closely with victims and survivors to listen and learn from their experiences. Gaining this first-hand knowledge has enabled us to work with our partners at Ashiana, to better understand the physical and psychological effects of FGM.

"Here at South Yorkshire Police we work to protect, provide support and prevent harm from being caused. Our number one priority remains stopping FGM and we will always take action to achieve to this."

Nicola Lambe, from the charity Ashiana, which supports women from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee communities, whose lives have been affected by violence and abuse, said: "In order to support communities to tackle this practice and stop any more women and girls experiencing FGM, it is important that we listen to those affected and work together to combat it.

"This way, we can provide the right responses, support and safeguarding practices. Our work with women who have survived FGM and South Yorkshire Police is one great example of how we can do this."

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Anyone with concerns about others being at risk of FGM should speak to a healthcare professional or call Ashiana on 0114 255 5740 for advice.