On Monday 6th February, I sponsored an End to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) event with BAWSO in the Senedd. This day marks the UN International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, which leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM.
Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56%, Mauritania 54% and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.
FGM is illegal in the UK, but is rarely prosecuted. Thousands of women in England and Wales have undergone female genital mutilation, and 33,000 girls under the age of 16 are at risk.
Female Genital Mutilation is the most challenging aspect of Wales' Violence Against Women Act. We've known about it for over 100 years and it is more prevalent in Wales than we would like to think. Prevention is paramount. We must ensure that all citizens and public servants with an interest in the well-being of children know what to look out for and know how to respond where a child is at risk of FGM.
The day included speeches from myself, Councillor Jane Harris from Swansea County Council, Samsunear Ali, Deputy Chief Exec of Bawso, and Rachel McDonald, a survivor of FGM. The event was a success in celebrating social dialogue and the empowerment of communities to act collectively to end the practice, as well as raising awareness to campaigns which take concrete action against FGM.
If you are affected, or if you know someone who is, please call BAWSO's 24 hour helpline on 0800 731 8147, or the NSPCC's FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550