|Poster for the Girl Summit 2014|
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."