Tuesday 16th September at the Civic Hall Banqueting Suite was the first-ever Female Genital Mutilation conference aiming to raise awareness and start the dialogue for a joined up city response.

The conference opened with Cllr Judith Blake affirming the aim of Leeds to be a Child-Friendly City.

Keynote speakers consisted of;

Mark Burns Williamson Police and Crime Commissioner West Yorkshire

Ruth Passman Head of Equality and Health Inequalities, NHS England

Tahir Khan QC

James Rogers Assistant Chief Executive of Citizens and Communities

Nicolette Clark Specialist Midwife BME Groups , Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust

Dr Jean Garrod Director  People Help People (Author of report launched).

Ruth Passman spoke on the normalisation of this type of abuse.   The need for medical professionals to understand the severity and be able to respond without re-traumatising women by using shocked expressions when they encounter this. The increased levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder within women due to this abuse will be evident as incidents rise.

National legislation should be taken and localised to meet the needs of the communities locally.

Tahir Khan QC outlined the legalities of Female Genital Mutilation and the ‘grey areas’ surrounding this.   His shock of ever learning more about FGM as a seasoned Queen’s Counsel he is used to hearing quite gruesome things and he would include this abuse just as severe.   The challenges of prosecuting perpetrators should not be a reason for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to not take the case. The comparison of treatment for rape victims in regards to protecting defendants e.g. TV Link, evidence giving behind screens could be utilised.

Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust midwife Nicolette Clark spoke of the increased numbers of women presenting with the abuse at child birth within the city and the impact of this to physical, psychological trauma.

James Rogers as the last speaker spoke on the commitment from Leeds to work jointly with BHI, Health and the Police to end Female Genital Mutilation in Leeds.   Working with partners to ensure joined up and sustained approach as a priority. James requested that we ceased from hiding behind acronyms as they masked and sometimes softened the impact of such abuse.

Safeguarding is critical therefore raising awareness within all workers/service providers is needed for all abuses children may be of risk of.

In summary Heather Nelson, Chief Executive of BHI who funded the conference said:

“The conference is just the beginning, the work starts now.    We are pleased with the interest in today’s conference which was pulled together by a steering group of committed individuals from Leeds Gambian Volunteers, People Help People, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust and ourselves at BHI.”

“We have commitments and pledges from those who attended today and BHI along with partners intend to ensure theSe will not be ‘feel-good’ gestures but the foundation for the future work in the city.”

In addition to the conference was the launch of the report which provides statistics, probabilities and issues local to Leeds as a City.

“This report was essential as often when I/BHI spoke to those approached to support services for survivors of Female Genital Mutilation the response is ‘where is the evidence?’ ‘How prevalent is this in Leeds?’   The report written by Dr Jean Garrod holds this information.   Dr Garrod worked with Anj Handa tirelessly to produce this report without external funding which is phenomenal and a testimony to how committed they are in working towards seeing this abuse stopped.”

Further Reading:

Report by the Yorkshire Evening Post HERE


“2,667 Girls, Women in Leeds have undergone or at risk of FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION in Leeds”

Report 2014 Leeds City Region Conference Dr Jean Garrod/Anj Handa

To read the full conference report please click here

Hard copies are available for £15 please contact us for further details

To read the FGM Conference Evaluation Report please click here


“2,667 Girls, Women in Leeds have undergone or at risk of FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION in Leeds” – Report 2014 Leeds City Region Conference Dr Jean Garrod/Anj Handa