A series of community events and outreach programmes are being held in the borough to highlight the mental and physical impact of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Thousands of women living in Enfield are estimated to have been affected by FGM according to the latest figures from Enfield Council’s public health team.
The first of the community events was held at Edmonton Green Shopping Centre last month jointly with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. It was hosted by Alimatu Dimonekene, a prominent activist, campaigner and survivor of FGM who lives in Enfield. She was accompanied by volunteers and Enfield Council officers who gave passers-by advice, leaflets and resources.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Mahtab Uddin, said: “A substantial number of women living in Enfield have been affected by FGM. Large numbers of girls in Enfield may also be at risk because they have been born into communities where FGM is more likely to be practised. It is good that our campaign has started just before the school half-term holiday, where girls could be at risk from being taken abroad for FGM to be performed.
“FGM must be confronted - it can no longer be seen as a problem for other countries far away to deal with. It could be your child’s friend, a neighbour or colleague right here on your doorstep surviving with the effects of FGM. It’s our duty to help make sure girls and women are safe and can get the help and protection they need.”
In Enfield the North Middlesex University Hospital Iris Clinic specifically provides care and support for women experiencing problems as a result of female genital cutting. The clinic provides an environment where women are invited to discuss their health needs in a sensitive and non-judgmental environment. Women can self-refer to the clinic and all appointments are confidential. In 2018/19, over 120 attended the clinic for care and support related to FGM – half were Enfield residents.
Grace Aidoo, Lead Midwife for the Iris Clinic, said: “FGM has serious health consequences that can cause long-term emotional, psychological and physical effects from the damage. I encourage women to come and use our services where they will be treated with dignity and get the support they need.”
Further support can be sought from Samafal, a not for profit company that aims to help families and individuals overcome barriers and integrate into wider society. Enfield Children and Young Persons’ Service (ECYPS) is also engaging with local communities and parenting programmes.
The Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, Cllr Nneka Keazor, said: “There is a strong determination to provide the services, support and education to prevent FGM. We will continue to engage with our communities, be vigilant and provide as much information as possible to make sure women and girls get the protection and advice they need in a nurturing and confidential environment.”
Further community events are planned in Enfield in coming months. To make sure you are kept up to-date, sign up to the council’s newsletters or follow @EnfieldCouncil on Twitter, @EnfieldCouncilUK on Facebook.
Important information and advice can also be found at the National FGM Centre.
If you are worried that a child may be at risk of FGM, you can contact the free 24 hour helpline anonymously on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can also make a referral to the local children’s services team using the online portal.
Anyone who feels they are or someone they know is in immediate danger should call the emergency services on 999. From overseas, call +44 (0)20 7008 1500.