Charter pledges ‘zero tolerance’ to Female Genital Mutilation in West Sussex

West Sussex County Council adopts zero tolerance approach to Female Genital Mutilation (photo submitted). SUS-160502-151737001

West Sussex County Council adopts zero tolerance approach to Female Genital Mutilation (photo submitted). SUS-160502-151737001

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A charter pledging ‘zero tolerance’ to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been unveiled by West Sussex County Council today (Saturday February 6).

The announcement comes on the same date as the United Nation’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

The county council has called the practice, which refers to procedures either partially or totally removing external female genital organs for non-medical reasons, a ‘fundamental violation of human rights’.

The charter is due to be signed by all West Sussex county councillors at their next meeting on Friday February 19.

Louise Goldsmith, leader at WSCC, said: “Female genital mutilation is a brutal form of child abuse and an outrage on women which we really need to eradicate.

“This charter has received unanimous cross-party support which is essential as we all need to work together across the county to prevent further victims of this devastating act of cruelty.

“I think it is important to acknowledge that, for some, FGM is a difficult topic to raise and discuss but we need to shine a light on the outrageous practice which can cause so much harm to young and older women for all their lives.”

The charter reads: “We oppose all forms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is an extremely harmful practice with devastating health and psychological consequences for girls and women. It is a fundamental violation of human rights and a form of child abuse.

“This charter signifies our zero tolerance of the practice of FGM in West Sussex and symbolises our commitment to tackling its eradication in our county and beyond. In signing this charter we acknowledge the key role that we have in raising awareness of the issue within our own organisation and in our communities.

“We urge all partners and communities to share our commitment and join national and international efforts to oppose and eliminate this practice.”

An estimated 137,000 women and girls are affected by FGM across the England and Wales, according to research.

The charter is one of a number of actions being carried out in the county to tackle FGM.

Throughout 2016 West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board (WSSCB), which includes representatives from a range of agencies, such as police, NHS, the fire & rescue service and probation, will be holding a series of events bringing together agencies and communities across West Sussex in order to coordinate a local response to tackling FGM. This will start with an FGM stakeholder event on March 14.

The WSSCB is keen to engage with anyone who is involved in community projects aimed at tackling FGM.

Visit www.westsussexscb.org.uk for further information and the WSSCB team’s contact details.

Anyone concerned about FGM can contact Sussex Police by emailing 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or calling 101.

The NSPCC also has an FGM anonymous helpline on 0800 028 3550 or via fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

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