Conference takes place today aimed at raising awareness of female genital mutilation (16 Sept 2014)

A Conference takes place today aimed at raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) Organised by BHI, who have worked with young girls in schools and women who have experienced FGM for over six years and has seen an increase in the access to their services in the more recent years.

It is with this experience and knowledge that BHI pulled together a steering group and organised a Leeds City Region wide conference. The aim of the conference is to raise awareness of this abuse and to have a "Citywide Response to Female Genital Mutilation" enabling Leeds to be a city of Zero Tolerance to FGM.

Key speakers at the event include the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, James Rogers Assistant Chief Executive at Leeds City Council, Ruth Passman Head of Equality and Health Inequalities NHS England, Nicolette Clarke Midwife Specialist Midwife for BME Groups, Dr Jean Garrod report author, and Tahir Khan QC based in Bradford.

Mr Burns- Williamson said:
"I will be speaking at this conference, the first to look at the local perspective, with the aim of focusing our attention on what is an issue of national concern.

Female genital mutilation is an offence which is largely under reported and it is really important that we raise awareness of this abuse across West Yorkshire.

This conference brings us one step closer to achieving raised awareness with partners ensuring victims have the confidence to come forward and report this crime.

Victims need to be confident that they will be dealt with appropriately throughout the Criminal Justice System and that perpetrators are brought to justice. I will therefore be working closely with the Police, Adult and Child Safeguarding boards and other key partners to achieve this."

Tahir Khan QC said:
Female Genital Mutilation is an abhorrent and violent crime. In over twenty-five years at the Bar, I have never known a case make its way through our courts to trial. I was delighted to be invited to speak at this regional event. I believe a local multi-agency approach is crucial to the eradication of this practice. I hope to assist other professionals working in this area to understand what the law is, and the scope of it, and what measures are available to assist victims and witnesses when a case passes through the criminal justice system.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire was approached and totally supportive in the need to raise awareness of this abuse in the region and outlining the law as it stands:

Heather Nelson said:
"I am delighted this conference is finally here and pleased that there has been such huge support for this within the City/Region. I was almost seeing a North South divide in regards to the response to this mutilation of women and couldn't understand why this was. BHI hope this is the beginning of a co-ordinated awareness by all sectors including statutory, 3rd sector and private. As an organisation we have supported the emotional health and wellbeing of those referred to us after disclosure either as self-referrals or via schools etc. By working together we are able to utilise the excellent safeguarding policies within the city and increase awareness amongst service providers and communities alike."


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