Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett is backing a petition to raise awareness of a form of child abuse affecting thousands of young girls in the UK.
17-year-old student Fahma Mohamed has launched the campaign to get schools talking about Female Genital Mutilation before the summer holidays, at which time an estimated 24,000 young girls in the UK will be at risk.
Stephen and Deputy PCC Jenny McKibben have signed Fahma’s petition, which will be delivered to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
“Female Genital Mutilation is child abuse, and Fahma is completely right when she says we don’t talk about it enough”, said Stephen.
“It is a distressing subject, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that, as a nation, we have put our heads in the sand and not done enough to stop thousands of young girls going through this hideous and traumatic experience every year.
“By signing the petition, we are saying this abuse has to stop, and that can only happen through talking about it and taking positive action.
“I fully support Fahma in her call to Michael Gove to get this subject given the attention it deserves within our schools.
“The figures for those women and girls who may be at risk of FGM in Norfolk are unclear but, with more than 65,000 victims nationally, the practice is one of real concern and one which we must ensure we are well placed to address. I have been working closely with Norfolk Police and partners from health to make sure we can provide the right support to those who need it and protect those who are vulnerable.”
Although FGM was criminalised 28 years ago, there have yet to be any prosecutions in the UK. It is hoped that this will soon change with the first prosecution in Britain for this offence expected to come to court within weeks. “I welcome this milestone”, Stephen said. “In line with other domestic abuse offences, positive action must and will be taken against perpetrators of this crime.”