NHS Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group joins campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation
NHS Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting female genital mutilation prevention week, which runs from 8-12 February.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is illegal in the UK and is a form of child abuse. It is an excruciatingly painful practice that can have lifelong physical, psychological and social consequences.
There are no health benefits and it harms women's health in many ways. The procedure involves removing healthy female genital tissue and this interferes with the natural function of the female body.
Richmond CCG is helping to raise awareness of the health issues associated with FGM. Sian Thomas, designated nurse for safeguarding children, delivers training to a wide range of groups through the Local Safeguarding Children's Board (LSCB). To enable professionals to understand the emotional and physical impact on women who have had FGM, survivors are invited to share their experiences.
Sian Thomas said: "FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. The procedure is traditionally undertaken by a person with no medical training.
"Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given as a reason for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse. It's dangerous and a criminal offence. It can cause a wide range of serious health issues including chronic pain, infections and birth complications.
"It essential that we increase public awareness of FGM to ensure that girls at risk are identified and protected, as well as ensure that women who have had the procedure can access local services and get the care and support they need."
An estimated 137,000 women in the UK are affected by FMG. Women and girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that the procedure can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to "heal" before they return to school.
During the procedure, anaesthetics and antiseptic treatments are not generally used, and the practice is usually carried out using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. Girls may have to be forcibly restrained.
People who are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, should report this to the police. It is then their responsibility to investigate and protect any girls or women involved.
Other helpful telephone numbers are as follows:
- Richmond Council's Single Point of Access team: 0208 891 7969
- The Police on 101
- Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
For 24/7 advice on female genital mutilation, call the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children FGM helpline. This service is free, anonymous and confidential.
Contact Amy Burns, communications officer at Richmond CCG, on 020 8734 3016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org