(BSMG – 26 Feb 2018) – Somali community in Bristol have urged authorities to conduct a public inquiry into issues surrounding the failed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) trial. They have voiced concerns about the “systematic abuse and harassment faced by Somali parents with young daughters in the city.”
In a statement released today, they said: “We are very concerned about the number of young girls been examined without evidence. In fact, the human rights of many Somali young girls in the city has been breached by safeguarding officers; the campaign to eradicate FGM is not currently serving the interest of the children.”
Read the full statement:
Statement: Bristol Somali Community – The Failed FGM Trial
26 February 2018
“We, the Somali community in Bristol, do neither condone nor support Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) because it is against the law and our Islamic religion. We completely support the campaign to eradicate FGM, and we also agree anyone who breaks the law by practicing this barbaric custom should be prosecuted.
“The collapsed FGM trial has highlighted the systematic abuse and the harassment faced by Somali parents with young daughters in the city. The steps taken by the witness to get information from the defendant, a Somali taxi driver, understandably is a component of the institutionalised harassment project which has terrorised many families in Bristol since the FGM campaign has started. This raises a serious concern, however.
“We now know that the father was found not guilty because the evidence was riddled with “inconsistencies”; evidence which was influenced by Integrate UK’s working culture and their commitment to get a conviction by any means. A case in point is the failure to manage conflict of interests – as the Sunday Mail revealed yesterday (25 February 2018) – and the close working relationship developed between Integrate UK and Avon and Somerset Police, particularly the FGM lead officer, was based on nothing but systematic marginalisation and locking up people from the target communities.
“More importantly, it seems the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been very excited about the race to get a first conviction, which has shamefully resulted wasting much needed public money to an ill-advised case. As tax payers, we demand answers from Avon and Somerset Police and the CPS – and the Government. The law was designed to protect children, and the public, but regarding the campaign to eradicate FGM, the law and the safeguarding procedures have been used otherwise.
“The targeted aggressive approach of the professional FGM campaigners has caused stress to many Somali families with young children in Bristol. We are very concerned about the number of young girls been examined without evidence. In fact, the human rights of many Somali young girls in the city has been breached by safeguarding officers; the campaign aimed to eradicate FGM is not currently serving the interest of the children.
“We, therefore, urge relevant authorities to launch a public inquiry to understand the drivers of the systematic abuse within the FGM campaign, the way the NHS collects and records FGM cases, and how can the welfare of the children and their families can be strengthened. We also sincerely request members of the Somali community to stay calm and be patient in this painful time. Community leaders and organisations should inform schools and service providers not to allow Integrate UK and their representatives to work with or approach Somali children and their parents and families, meanwhile.”