#AceNewsReport – Feb.06: The unimaginable and unprecedented turmoil caused by the #Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on crime and vulnerability. In many areas it has totally hampered the ability of criminals to operate: Government restrictions reduced footfall considerably leaving previously crowded and bustling city centres quiet, empty: Those who would have previously used the busy streets to disguise their criminality are now exposed, highly visible and easier to apprehend:
MET Marks ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The Met’s leading FGM investigator Inspector Allen Davis
But whilst Coronavirus has enhanced the ability to capture those committing brazen offences on the streets, it has also heightened the risk and likelihood of hidden criminality and I am talking to you today about an incredibly hidden and dangerous crime – Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
I am sure there are many of you reading this wondering why a London police officer is talking about FGM, but the reality is the abhorrent practice of ‘cutting’ takes place globally, including within homes in London.
The current situation significantly heightens the risk of this happening. Being confined at home, with little social contact or access to protection measures and health and education services can put some girls in jeopardy.
Both here and abroad girls are out of school and the protective factors that exist to support them are not operating in the same way, with more time for girls’ physical wounds from the cutting process to heal. That’s why it’s crucial we speak openly about this. Such deliberate and life-changing violence against young girls cannot be overlooked in the midst of this pandemic – we need to be extra vigilant to the risks.
According to the UN Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency an additional two million FGM cases could occur over the next decade that would otherwise have been averted. Two million. We cannot let that number be true. We all have a duty to collectively prevent two million more girls and women being put through this suffering.
FGM is a procedure carried out often through pressure to conform to social norms and in accordance with the wishes of relatives in a family’s country of origin. Previously, young girls were being taken overseas so the procedure could be carried out, but more and more frequently this is taking place here in the United Kingdom within the family home. There is the possibility individuals could be brought to the UK to perform this act and there has recently been a case in the US where FGM has even been carried out in a medical setting.
Owing to extreme poverty and destitution in some countries of origin, more young girls are being prepared for an early marriage and often FGM is performed as a precursor. The marriage dowry helps alleviate economic hardship. FGM is often linked to other harmful practices such as forced marriage and child abuse linked to faith and belief.
I have been a police officer for 25 years and have led on the investigation of FGM for the last six years. I’ve seen the harrowing, life-changing impact this procedure has. It cannot continue. The psychological trauma that goes with all forms of FGM may never heal – we must normalise conversation about this and collectively bring it to an end. I know for many it is difficult to discuss and for us all it impossible to comprehend how this suffering is inflicted, but we must act to protect those at risk of being subjected to this horrific abuse.
FGM is a hidden crime, as is child abuse, but there are things anyone reading this can do to help:
- Prevention is incredibly important. Much of this work can be done in Schools. I would encourage all schools to sign up to the “Schools Charter to end Harmful Practices” you can read more here: https://theschoolscharter.co.uk/
- Be professionally and personally curious – have the confidence to talk about FGM. Vulnerable girls need our support and we can’t shy away from this topic because it is sensitive or taboo.
- Share information with law enforcement on those at risk of FGM and those you may suspect are looking to carry out this procedure. Identifying these people is a priority.
- If you are concerned about any girl or vulnerable adult, contact police or children social care. In an emergency, always call 999.
I am proud that the Met is at the forefront of building international partnerships to tackle FGM. Our specialist detectives are working closely with partners across the world to share intelligence on those involved in the facilitation of this procedure. We are developing our understanding of their travel patterns, where those at greatest risk are and how we can protect them.
We’re also working closely with a range of agencies as part of Operation Limelight which focuses on targeting this type of harmful practice at borders globally. It has been adopted in 16 U.S cities and rolled out across the UK.
There are live investigations into those facilitating this practice taking place globally, and a conviction was recently achieved in London. Our ability to investigate, safeguard and bring to justice those responsible for these practices develops every day. We will continue to do all we can to support an international effort to bring a stop to this global crime.
Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Please, join the conversation and help us raise more awareness of this procedure and protect the young girls and women of the future.
For more information about FGM visit:
#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Feb.06: 2021:
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