South Yorkshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner is urging people to be on the look out for girls forced into marriage or subjected to genital mutilation over the summer months.
Tracey Cheetham said young girls are more likely to be subjected to genital mutilation, which is common in some cultures, when they are off school for the summer.
Professionals from health, policing and the Home Office, who attended a recent conference on genital mutilation held in South Yorkshire, identified that up to 24,000 girls in the UK are at risk.
Ms Cheetham said: “Girls are at heightened risk of female genital mutilation during school holidays, because this is when they are often taken abroad to have this barbaric procedure inflicted on them. “Girls may be told they are going on holiday, to meet family or to learn about their culture, but when they get there, they can be forced to marry, or be forced to undergo female genital mutilation. It is horrific.
“I hope that anyone who thinks she is at risk of genital mutilation or forced marriage will contact the police, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported and helped.
“Make no mistake, this is child abuse, We must all work hard to eradicate it.”