Justice Minister David Ford and Finance Minister Arlene Foster have announced that Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) are now available in Northern Ireland.
An FGMPO is an order which can be made for the purpose of protecting a girl against the commission of a genital mutilation offence or protecting a girl against whom such an offence has already been committed. Breaching an FGMPO is a criminal offence that can carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment.
David Ford said: “I want to send a clear message that Female Genital Mutilation is a crime. It is a harmful practice that has no place in our society and is a violation of the rights of girls and women. We know that these dreadful acts are often perpetrated abroad and during the school holidays when absences are less likely to be questioned. Sadly as many children in Northern Ireland will have looked forward to the summer holidays others will have lived in fear of the summer break.
“I welcome the added protection these orders will provide and would urge anyone concerned that a young girl or woman may be at risk to please come forward and report it to the PSNI or other relevant authority.”
Anyone with information can contact the PSNI on the 101 number or anonymously through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, the NSPCC has a 24 hour FGM helpline that can offer support and assistance to anyone with concerns about the practice of FGM. The caller remains anonymous, but any information that could help to protect a woman or child will be passed to the police or social services. The NSPCC helpline number is 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arlene Foster said: “Female genital mutilation is an abhorrent practice, which leaves lifelong physical and emotional scars and, in some cases, has resulted in death. The NI Executive is committed to eradicating FGM and last year we published Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines for frontline professionals who are responsible for safeguarding children and protecting adults from such abuse.
“The introduction of the new civil protection orders is another step in the right direction. We want to build on the good work that has been undertaken to date by further disseminating the zero tolerance message and raising awareness about FGM.
“I am calling on everyone to join the fight against Female Genital Mutilation. If you are worried or have any information that could help protect a woman or child, please make that call and help us to stamp out this heinous crime once and for all.”
Notes to editors:
1. Section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, which extends to Northern Ireland, provides for the insertion of a new Schedule 2 into the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. The commencement date for the new Schedule which provides for the making of FGMPOs is 17 July 2015.
2. For all media enquiries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
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