Experts from a variety of backgrounds are set to descend on Nottingham this week for a national conference to increase protection for survivors of Female Genital Mutilation.
The event is being hosted by the Nottingham based Mojatu Foundation to raise awareness of FGM, forge links with partners and to generate ideas on how best to tackle the problem in the future.
Commissioner Paddy Tipping has prioritised the protection of vulnerable women from violence within his Police and Crime Plan and is committed to increasing education on FGM so that those in a position of authority recognise the risks and take action to safeguard potential victims.
In recognition of this he has provided the Mojatu Foundation with over £2,000 to support them to lead the conference and produce an action plan to tackle FGM. The action plan will ensure that the Commissioner and other public sector organisations strengthen their work to protect children at risk of FGM and support survivors.
Speaking ahead of the event, Commissioner Tipping said: “It is vital that we address this under-reported crime and forge stronger links with our partners and practicing communities to protect young women and children at risk of this unacceptable violence in order to raise awareness of the issue.
“FGM is largely unpunished crime because many survivors are too fearful about reporting their experiences to the police. We want to change this by helping vulnerable young women to understand that this violent practice is wrong and that there is support available to safeguard them.
“By giving survivors a stronger voice, this vital project aims to empower young women at risk to reject this abhorrent practice and recognise it as a crime.”
The conference, which is taking place on Thursday 12 February, will be opened by Commissioner Tipping and will feature talks from a series of high-profile speakers including Dr Phoebe Abe, a London-based GP and specialist in FGM who is an associate member of the All Parliamentary Party Group on FGM. Other guests include Cecily Mwaniki, chief executive of the CMnetwork, Margaret Lesuuda, education counsellor at the Kenya High Commission, Manjit Bains, Women’s Integrated Services and Detective Chief Inspector Mel Bowden from Nottinghamshire Police.
The conference will also hear survivor accounts, including the story of Valentine Nkoyo, director of the Mojatu Foundation and an MBA student at Nottingham Trent University, who was forced to go through the practice at the age of 11 as part of her Maasai culture.
“This conference will draw together experts from across the public and charity sectors as well as representatives from practising communities to focus on FGM and identify meaningful ways to increase the safety of children and young women at risk of this disturbing act” she said. “As a survivor myself working with other survivors locally who continue to live with the consequences of FGM, I strongly feel that we need a safe and supportive environment where survivors feel they can be listened to and engaged in local efforts to eradicate FGM. For us to be able to offer this, we need the right resources and coordinated efforts between the community, the local authority, the police, NHS and other organisations offering other forms of support services for women”.
“As a charity, we understand the challenges survivors face but we need the support of our wider partners to deliver the appropriate help and protection. We strongly believe that by effective engagement with at-risk communities, FGM can be eradicated in a generation. Survivors have a huge role to play in empowering future survivors to speak out before it’s too late – drawing attention to their plight is one of the ways of achieving this. I am so glad that the Nottinghamshire police and the Nottingham City Council are supportive of our work and we hope to continue working in partnership to tackle FGM locally”
The Mojatu Foundation is a charity which works with African and Caribbean communities in Nottingham and Berkshire. The organisation’s projects and campaigns focus mainly on the empowerment of girls, women and young people through community engagement, media, education and health initiatives.
Central to the Foundation’s work is countering FGM both locally and beyond by supporting survivors and working with partners to address risk. The organisation has a Nottingham FGM Steering Group with more than 20 countries represented, the majority of which are from practising communities. The group has been receiving support from its patron, Veronica Pickering, the Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire who has been advising and fostering links to support the work being done. The group plans to hold a series of events this year to sensitise communities and promote discussion about the issue.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Monday 9th February 2015