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Raising awareness of FGM and ‘honour’ based abuse

A major event focusing on forms of violence against women and girls, and in particular, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and ‘honour’ based abuse, took place in Chelmsford on October 24.

Around 40 professionals who lead teams from health, education, social care and the voluntary sector gathered to discuss the issues around these kinds of harm and abuse, and discuss how to work to raise awareness and prevent children and young people from being harmed.

Adwoa Kwateng-kluvitse, Director of FORWARD, a charity which campaigns around FGM and child marriage, offered expert advice and insights on what to do if there were reasonable suspicions that FGM would be carried out, or had been carried out. Adwoa also stressed the importance of not letting fear of being labelled as racist or culturally insensitive stop professionals from asking about this issue and protecting girls from harm.

Penny Rogers, Head of Safeguarding at North Essex Partnership, NHS Foundation Trust, and former Essex Police Detective Inspector Nicola Burston, then spoke on managing challenges around mental health needs and ‘honour’ based abuse. This session highlighted the complexities of supporting the needs of victims of this type of abuse and demonstrated the crucial importance of partnership working.

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:

“I am concerned about hidden harms such as ‘honour’ based abuse and FGM.   There is growing awareness that a significant number of people are victims of ‘honour’ based abuse over and over again, and often receive no help or support.  We need to provide them with the confidence and freedom to seek help from the police and other agencies. We should be asking ‘why do perpetrators do this and why do they get away with it?’  And then we should be developing practical steps to intervene against perpetrators and support victims.

“Looking ahead, my aim is to be strongly involved in work to develop a multi-agency strategy, with effective partnership working, to identify victims and those at risk of hidden harm, and to provide support for them across Essex and the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock.”

More information about FORWARD can be found here:


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