With the Girl Summit 2014 taking place in London last month, a Shrewsbury firm of solicitors is praising efforts to put an end to female genital mutilation and is advising those affected that legal support is available.
With the recent Home Affairs Committee Report revealing that 170,000 women and girls in the UK are living with female genital mutilation (FGM), and 65,000 girls under the age of 13 are also at risk, Shropshire-based PCB Solicitors is highlighting ways that those affected can seek legal support so they don’t suffer in silence.
Beth Tutchener-Ellis, Solicitor in the firm’s Family Department, explained: “FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985, and the recent announcement by David Cameron saw the introduction of a new programme designed to end the practice and prosecute parents who fail to stop their daughters undergoing the procedure.
"The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 also made it an offence for UK citizens to carry out or have an involvement in FGM abroad on any UK citizen, including countries where the practice is legal.
Young women and girls affected
“So many women and young girls are affected by FGM each year, and what is more worrying is that a significant number of cases are still unaccounted for – possibly due to the nature of the crime and potential implications for the victim in coming forward,” she added. “However, there are steps that those at risk can take to protect themselves and their family, including reporting the issue to the police as the first port of call.”
Guidance under the legal aid scheme
In addition, Beth highlights that those over the age of 18, or a parent of a child under the age of 18, who are threatened by FGM may be eligible for advice and guidance under the Legal Aid scheme so they can apply for a Non-Molestation Order. If the person threatening the use of FGM is not a close family member, a protective injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act could possibly be applied for.
“Ultimately, the practice is considered to be child abuse, and as part of a team of legal professionals specialising in domestic abuse cases, we are keen to highlight that there is help out there and that people should not suffer in silence. If you are concerned about someone’s safety or have been affected by FGM yourself, please do get in touch on 01952 403000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide complete confidential advice and guidance,” she concluded.
Modern legal partnership
PCB Solicitors LLP is a modern partnership, with offices in Shrewsbury, Broseley, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Knighton, Ludlow, Telford, and Worcester. While they have origins back to 1860, the firm is forward-looking and offers a full range of legal advice for both individuals and businesses, including property, family advice and childcare matters, wills, trusts, probate and estate planning, accident and personal injury, litigation, criminal law and corporate and business law.
For further information about PCB Solicitors’ complete range of legal services, please contact the Shrewsbury Head Office on 01743 248148 or visit the website www.pcblaw.co.uk.
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