WOMEN marched through the city centre to raise awareness on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the side affects it can have.
Yesterday was International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM and people were encouraged to show their support on social media using the hashtag CallTimeOnFGM.
The walk through Commercial Road, in Portsmouth, saw women from health services, African community groups and the police force coming together to spread the message about the harmful cultural practice.
Clocks with the message Call Time on FGM were placed on show in shops like Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and Natwest as well as at the civic offices and central library.
As previously reported in The News last year there were 85 reports of FGM in Portsmouth.
The cases were reported by midwives at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, when the women became pregnant.
Fatoumata Koma, 33, from Fratton, said: ‘This march is important to me because FGM is something in the African community that the victims aren’t always aware of.
‘They don’t know the consequences of it and the problems it can cause them throughout their life.
‘It is also important that people from outside the African communities know about it too so they can help and stop this from happening.
‘It can save other children who would be at risk.’
They don’t know the consequences of it and the problems it can cause them throughout their life.Fatoumata Koma
FGM involves the removal by force of all or part of the female genitalia, and some women are unaware that they have been effected.
In the UK, it is considered to be child abuse and carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
Tina Scarborough, deputy director for quality and safeguarding at Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘The march was about getting the community together to raise awareness on FGM and the affect it has.
‘We have got good support from the community, the police and health services.’
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office helped organise the walk and Alan Hagger, head of strategic commissioning, took part.
The office gives money to the Southern Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS) to help victims of FGM.
Alan said: ‘We are pleased to be able to support the SDAS because FGM is a problem that needs all agencies working together.
‘The key to stopping it is education and raising awareness and these sort of events help do that.’