A quarter of a million pounds Government funding has been secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner's office in Staffordshire to tackle Female Genital Mutilation.
The Home Office pledged £15 million across England and Wales over the next three years to tackle violence against women and girls and organisations were invited to bid for specific projects.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office (PCC) led a bid on behalf of partners, including the police, county and city councils, health and key voluntary women’s groups, to secure funding to tackle FGM. This was not because of the high prevalence currently of the issue across the county and city, but a desire to prevent it from escalating.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold, who led an awareness campaign on behalf of PCC Matthew Ellis, welcomed news of the successful bid.
"This is a great result for the county and in particular the women and girls of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
"Female genital mutilation is a hideous practice and it’s a crime. It invariably goes unreported and results in tremendous psychological, as well as physical, pain and suffering, which can and does traumatise girls for life.
"This isn’t just a problem for women in affected communities – it’s an issue which we all need to face and it’s why I’m delighted the PCC’s office has been successful in securing this important funding, which could really change young girls’ lives for the better."
FGM, sometimes called female circumcision, involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It usually happens between the ages of four and ten and can have serious consequences for a woman’s health and in some instances lead to death.
It is practised in 28 African countries and some in the Middle East and Asia and affects migrant communities in the UK.
The OPCC-led project hopes to work closely with the National FGM Centre model and learn from the good practice and evidence base they have produced. It will involve project officers, who will support and work closely with social workers. Working with parents to prevent FGM will be a key aspect of this role.
The funding will also help create ‘community champions’, who will forge trusting relationships and foster changes in attitudes and practices within the community. There will also be training to improve knowledge, skills, referral practices and give confidence to those who do and may come face to face with individuals they suspect have undergone or are at risk of FGM.
Specialist services will take a victim centred approach and will support, through counselling and other therapeutic interventions, potential victims and/or actual victims of FGM. There will also be campaigns produced in collaboration with survivors and professionals.