Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 7 News List

UK launches red triangle campaign against FGM

The Guardian

A national campaign carrying the symbol of a red triangle is to be rolled out across the UK to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The British National Police Chiefs’ Council has partnered with the Freedom charity to encourage people to provide the police with information that can help detect and prevent FGM in the UK and abroad.

Commander Mak Chishty, the police national lead on “honor”-based violence, has written to every police force in the country reminding them that while progress has been made, there is yet to be a successful prosecution for FGM.

“This is a particular area of political and public scrutiny and I would urge each force to maximize every opportunity to demonstrate that we as a service are doing everything that is possible to combat FGM,” he wrote.

His letter also cited a prevalence study published in July 2015 by City University and Equality Now, a human rights group, which showed that no local authority in the UK was unaffected by FGM.

“We are raising awareness that FGM is a crime and that anybody involved in the process — from turning a blind eye to the act of cutting — commits a criminal offense. This is form of child abuse and violence against women and girls,” Chishty told reporters.

More than 13,000 posters promoting the red triangle initiative have been distributed to police forces to display inside police buildings and within appropriate community settings.

Police leads have been asked to evaluate the campaign’s impact by monitoring any increased reporting, receipt of intelligence or new engagement opportunities.

Aneeta Prem, an author and the founder of the Freedom charity, has written a novel warning about FGM, called Cut Flowers, that is being distributed to schoolchildren to raise awareness of the illegal practice.

“Over 200 million women and girls have gone through the horrors of FGM and we know that girls are being cut here in the UK. Unofficial figures estimate that 137,000 girls and women in Britain are affected. Through education we can stop FGM in a generation,” she said. “Through teaching we can explain the long-term health dangers and dispel the myths that have kept this barbaric practice alive. The help of boys as well as girls is needed to change opinions.”

“We are asking that people wear the red triangle badge to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM,” she added.

A 25-year-old from Somalia who suffered FGM and now lives in London said: “I was cut when I was five years old. I still feel pain and relive that moment every day. I completely support the Red Triangle campaign and hope it will encourage girls to ask for help.”

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government was taking “world-leading action” to tackle FGM by strengthening the law to improve protection for those at risk and by removing barriers to prosecution.

“This government has introduced FGM protection orders, a new offense of failing to protect a girl from FGM, a mandatory reporting duty for frontline professionals, new guidance for the police and lifelong anonymity for victims to encourage them to come forward,” she said.

“We are sending a clear message that FGM will not be tolerated and as part of this I am determined to see the country’s first successful prosecution for FGM,” she added.

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