2,000 girls in Bristol at risk of genital mutilation
AROUND 2,000 girls in Bristol are at risk of falling victim to an illegal operation that can cause death or serious illness.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, is widely practised in Somalia, more than 20 other African countries and areas of Asia, South America and the Middle East.
Healthcare professionals, policy makers, educationalists and police representatives attended a day of performances and awards yesterday held at The City Academy Bristol in Lawrence Hill to help raise awareness of the illegal practice.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia. It carries the risk of death from bleeding or tetanus, and long-term problems including urinary incontinence, recurrent infections and chronic pain. In some cases, reversal procedures are necessary for childbirth.
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Yesterday's event marked International Zero Tolerance to FGM day.
It was hosted by Integrate Bristol and Daughters of Eve, two charities campaigning against the practice.
They estimate that 2,000 girls in the city whose ethnic backgrounds are in countries where FGM is carried out are at risk from the centuries-old practice, and released 2,000 pink balloons at the event to signify this.
Groups of young people from the academy performed specially written anti-FGM songs and a group of young women presented three short films they had made to raise awareness.
Nimco Ali, co-founder of Daughters of Eve, said: "This year marks the 10th year since the FGM Act 2003 was passed, which extended the law to make it illegal for UK nationals to commit FGM outside the UK. But still we have failure not to just prosecute but also to protect girls at risk.
"This year the young people of Bristol will speak out and stand united not only against FGM but all forms of violence against women and girls."
Anyone who knows someone at risk should call the police on 101.
The campaign is backed by mayor George Ferguson and police commissioner Sue Mountstevens.