A PROPOSAL to introduce a campaign and a zero-tolerance charter against female genital mutilation (FGM) was unanimously backed by Newport councillors at full council meeting this week.

Following a shocking report from the Home Office, Cllr Gail Giles, for Caerleon ward, put forward the motion of notice at the meeting in the hope of raising public awareness on the issue.

The motion which calls on the council to raise awareness in schools, work with men to understand their role in protecting women at risk and to work with health services, was supported across all parties.

The news comes after a Home Affairs committee report earlier this month revealed 170,000 women and girls across the UK are living with FGM, with a further 65,000 girls under 13 at risk.

Prior to the meeting Cllr Giles discussing the motion said: “From a meeting of the Newport Labour Women’s Network last year we discussed the issue of FGM and wanted to take it forward as a campaign.

“The main problem is identifying the young girls at risk.

“We’re hoping for a significant campaign for education in school and tying in all the agencies and authorities to identify those at risk.”

Putting forward the motion at the meeting on Tuesday night Cllr Giles said: “FGM is what is it says on the tin-mutilation.

The practice occurs in particular communities, including the African, Asian and Eastern communities across the UK and in Wales.

The number of woman and young girls living with FGM in the UK is estimated approximately 170,000.

“65,000 aged 13 and under are at risk according to figures by the House of Commons Home Office committee.

“The failure to protect these girls is a national scandal. It is often hidden and shrouded in secrecy. Don’t think this is happening somewhere else – many young girls and women in Newport suffer this abuse.

“I believe it is called the cutting season and often the school holidays are a time of risk for many young girls. FGM causes severe physical abuse to girls and women and a lifetime of mental, physical and emotional suffering. “This is human rights.

“This is child cruelty.

Newport City Council will be leading the way with this motion.”

The motion, seconded by Cllr David Mayer, was backed by all councillors including Labour councillor Chris Evans who said that those practising it should be prosecuted.

Conservative councillor David Fouweather who had been reading up on the issue said: also supported the motion.

“I am shocked by what I have read,” he said.“ Some communities understand it to be part of cultural identity, but here we see it as a vile practice.”