Prosecutors join Day of Action against female genital mutilation

05/02/2014

The region’s prosecutors will be supporting their West Midlands police colleagues tomorrow during the Day of Action against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is aimed at raising awareness and bringing to justice those who commit or assist in such abuse.

Tomorrow (6 February 2014) is the International Day of Action against FGM which will highlight such illegal practices. The West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service  along with the police, victim support groups and the third sector are joining together in the area to raise awareness of such criminal practices and support the event.

The FGM Act 2003 makes it illegal for such practices to be performed in the United Kingdom. It is also an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out, or aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad on a UK national or permanent UK resident, even in countries where the practice is legal.

Anyone caught committing or facilitating such crimes can be jailed for up to 14 years and / or a fine.

Suzanne Llewellyn, Head of West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Crown Court Unit and lead on Violence Against Women, said:

"Female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse and today we are joining forces with our colleagues from the police to help raise the public's awareness on such cruel practices.

"Such illegal practices are seen as part of a ritual in some communities, however, we wish to make it very clear that in the UK it is a criminal offence and if you are caught carrying out, or even assisting someone to commit such crimes, then we will deal with you robustly. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated.

"I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anybody who has been a victim of such abuse, may know someone who is being targeted for such a practice or they are aware of individuals perform such illegal offences, to come forward and report it to the police immediately. We have a dedicated unit who will work with our partner agencies to support the victims and bring the offenders to justice."

Please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the NPSCC's FGM Helpline on 0800 028 3550.

Definition of Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for a range of procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is sometimes referred to as female circumcision, or female genital cutting. The names FGM or cut are increasingly used at the community level, although they are still not always understood by individuals in practicing communities, largely because they are English terms. Other terms for FGM include the Somali 'Gudnin' and the Sudanese 'Tahur'.

A person is guilty of an offence of FGM if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl's labia majora, labia minora or clitoris. "Excise" and "Infibulation" refer to "the removal" (by cutting) of the clitoris and partial or total removal of the labia minors and stitching of the labia majora.

Many adult victims of FGM require deinfibulation by medical professionals in order to deliver a child. Sometimes reinfibulation occurs at some stage between the time the woman gives birth and returns to give birth to another child. Reinfibulation is the re-suturing of the woman (stitching).