Police officers held a workshop at Gatwick yesterday (Wednesday, August 27) to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The event was aimed at those working in and around the airport, raising awareness of the procedure, also known as female cutting, which is mostly performed on young girls, predominantly from African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities.
Attendees included staff from the airlines and service providers at Gatwick, Boarder Force, British Transport Police, hotels and local government.
“It is hoped that by highlighting the issue and informing those working at the airport of the potential indicators, we can help to identify and safeguard potential victims,” said a Sussex Police spokeswoman.
“During the morning, attendees heard from Sherry Behan – a recently retired midwife from Brighton and survivor of FGM.
“There was also input from Gatwick officers and members of the Sussex and Surrey public protection teams.”
Detective Inspector Andy Richardson said: “Although FGM has been illegal here in the UK for many years there are still some communities that encourage the practice and often young girls are removed from the country and taken elsewhere for the procedure to be performed.
“This is also illegal as law stipulates that no UK citizen can be taken out of the country for this purpose.
“Over 34 million passengers pass through Gatwick every year and it is crucial that staff working here understand the role they play in helping us to identify perpetrators and safeguard victims and potential victims.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am fully supportive of the work that is going on at Gatwick to improve the UK’s domestic response to this barbaric practice.”
To view a video of the Mrs Bourne talking about FGM visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iBJG_y_HdI&feature=youtu.be.
More information on FGM and support for victims is available on the Sussex Police website.