Bristol

Bristol women protest against genital mutilation

Protesters with banner
Image caption An estimated 2,000 girls in Bristol are at risk

Women opposed to female genital mutilation have marched through Bristol in a protest against the practice.

About 20 people, many of them Somali women, handed out leaflets in the Easton area. An estimated 2,000 girls in the city are at risk.

The practice, which is illegal in the UK, can cause urinary infections, kidney failure and death.

Bristol midwives say they are coming across a large number of women with complications caused by it.

Also known as female circumcision, the practice is carried out in more than 28 countries in Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and South America.

Social services say they are investigating one case of female genital mutilation in Bristol a month.

Chronic pain

Local women and agencies are highlighting its criminality and the risk of death from bleeding or tetanus.

They say it can also cause problems including urinary incontinence, infections and chronic pain.

Some 600 people working in health, education, the police, social services and the voluntary sector have had awareness training in the last three years.

A new poster and leaflet campaign backed by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board aims to raise awareness and tell people where to go for advice.

One midwife from Southmead Hospital told BBC West: "About 90% of Somali mothers I see have a form of female [genital] mutilation - some of them think the minor type is acceptable but the practice is illegal and very painful."

Det Ch Insp Dave McCallum, from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "Female genital mutilation is a serious crime attracting a prison sentence of up to fourteen years.

"If underage children are involved it is also classed as child abuse."

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