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Warwickshire Police supports awareness day on Female Genital Mutilation

WARWICKSHIRE Police is supporting an international awareness day on Female Genital Mutilation today (6th February).

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to a range of procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Practising the procedure in the UK, is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

It affects women of all ages, but is usually performed at any time from birth up to the age of 15. There are no health benefits but some believe it helps prepare girls for marriage.

It is practised in numerous communities across the world including the UK. Women and girls subjected to it can suffer both long-term health consequences and mental health problems. It's estimated more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year.

Not only is carrying out FGM in the UK against the law, it is also illegal to facilitate a child being taken abroad to have the procedure carried out.

Where there are grounds to do so, Warwickshire Police will work with partners to safeguard anyone at risk of FGM. During the last two years, FGM protection orders have been used to prevent two young girls who officers believed were at risk of being taken abroad to undergo the horrendous procedure, leaving the country. The orders were issued by the family court and allowed officials to seize the passports of those who they suspected were planning to take the child abroad. Breaching the order is a criminal offence, with up to 14 years in prison.

A girl at immediate risk of the procedure may not know what's going to happen, but she might talk about being 'taken home' to a female genital mutilation practicing country to visit family or confide in someone about having a 'special procedure.'

Detective Inspector Jon Belcher said: "It's really important that we raise awareness of this horrific crime so that people learn to recognise potential signs and report it."

"We also need members of the public to learn the possible signs of FGM and to let us know if they have any concerns or fears that it may be about to take place.

"This is child abuse, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that children are kept safe and that those responsible are caught, but we need the help and support of the community to do so. "

For further help and information about FGM, contact the police on 101, visit https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/article/5395/Female-genital-mutilation or the call the dedicated NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.

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