Saturday, 2 August 2014

Crawley Observer Column 30th July 2014

This week in the Crawley Observer, below the picture, I have written about the unpleasant and arguably taboo to discuss subject of FGM. This isn't the usual natural territory that I find easy to write about but as a society locally, nationally and globally, we should not shy away from voicing how just how unacceptable this is and that FGM must stop. I've provided two links. The first link is me raising this at last week's County Council Full Council meeting and the second link is to the Girl Summit Pledge page.

Poster for the Girl Summit 2014
"Last week saw the hosting of the international Girl Summit in London that was co-hosted by the UK Government and Unicef. The summit aims to kickstart a global movement to end the appalling practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as child-marriage, forced marriage and early marriage - all within a generation.

This is not a pleasant issue to discuss but we would be wrong to ignore it. Globally, the statistics are shocking as it is believed that at least 30 million girls will be at risk of FGM over the next decade with 20,000 potentially at risk in the UK every year. In developing countries, one in three girls is married by the age of 18, with some married as young as eight. They are more likely to stay poor and never be educated which in turn makes FGM more likely. It is a vicious cycle that needs breaking.

On the day of the summit, the Government announced a series of measures including toughening up the laws on this illegal practice and the creation of a fund to help with prevention. This is good news and I was also pleased that the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner attended the summit.
Last Friday, at the Full Council meeting of West Sussex County, I raised the summit and the horrific practice of FGM with the Leader of the County Council. I asked for assurance that training is given to staff in Children’s Services and Education to help identify victims and those at risk of becoming victims. I was reassured that this was the case and learned there had been six FGM referrals to Social Services so far this year in West Sussex.

Increasing awareness and getting increased acceptance that this ‘tradition’ is wholly unacceptable is a way forward. People can show their support by signing the Girl Summit pledge via Twitter or Facebook. The pledge page comes up first if you search online for “Girl Summit pledge”. I hope many of you reading this will join me and the Leader of the County Council in signing."

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