FGM is considered a harmful practice, which include all forms of violence considered or presented by the perpetrators as a part of an acceptable cultural practice. According to the World Health Organisation, over 200 million women is affected by the FGM worldwide with approximately one million cases in Europe.
Our force works closely with our communities and partners to tackle this issue which is often kept hidden from the public eye.
Due to taboo surrounding the subject, there is a large number of misconceptions and misinformation amongst our communities.
Firstly FGM is not linked to any religion at all and is part of a traditional and cultural practice. It is hidden, not only from the public, but also within the communities itself which makes it extremely difficult to identify the survivors of the procedure or girls at risk.
Although in a number of cases, potential victims are being taken out of the country for prolonged periods to undergo FGM, it can also happen here in the United Kingdom.
Therefore it is everyone’s responsibility to look out for warning signs such as mentioning a special ceremony and refusing to talk about it, as well as health and behavioural problems.
Bedfordshire Police foremost focuses on safeguarding the potential victims and preventing FGM to happen in the first place. We work with professionals and the justice system to issue the FGM Protection Orders which prevents girls at risk from becoming victims.
Last year two Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders were issued within our county. Each of these orders could have potentially resulted in a victim of this irreversible procedure.
Once FGM is performed it can cause a number of side-effects to a woman’s health like chronic pain and infertility and can even result in death. It is a violation of basic human rights and has no place in our communities.
We would like to encourage everyone to take some time to learn about Female Genital Mutilation and other Harmful Practices as education and raising awareness will help you better recognise the signs and safeguard those at risk.
We remain committed to providing the highest level of service to girls at risk and survivors.
If you choose to contact us we will organise a secure and private place.
We will treat you with respect and honour your wishes.
Everything you will tell us will be confidential and not disclosed to anyone.
If you suspect that someone has been, or is about to become, a victim of FGM you can contact us online or call 101.
You can also follow our partners’ websites for further information:
Bedfordshire Police Harmful Practices Lead
Detective Inspector Elaine Cook