Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board holds its annual conference on ‘Exploitation in the Modern Age – Safeguarding Older Young People’ at WS10 conference and Banqueting, Wednesbury.
In his welcoming remarks, John Harris chair of Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) emphasised the importance of safeguarding children. He said every child deserves to be protected regardless of their gender, or race. “Children safeguarding is quite relevant and should be everyone’s responsibility to support and protect them”.
He stated that their vision at SSCB is to strengthening multi-agency and community efforts to safeguard children and young people lies at the heart of the work of SSCB.
Iryna Pona, Advisory, The Children’s Society has said that the Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local projects to support children and young people who are at risk of exploitation or harm, living in care or down by the systems meant to protect them.
“We do run different projects and these includes projects to looked after children and care leavers, children at risk of sexual exploitation, young refugees, young runaways and missing children, 16 and 17 year olds at risk of homeless, young carers and young people dealing with substance issues”.
“We support young people through intensive one to one work, group work and awareness raising activities with young people and professionals”, Pona added.
For her part Marie Kelly Strategic Lead for Domestic Abuse Sandwell and West Birmingham, talked about the overview of female genital mutilation (FGM). In her remark, Marie said FGM is all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. “This practice has no health benefits and harms girls and women in a number of ways. It causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, including difficulties in childbirth, also causing dangers to the unborn child”.
Marie further stated that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated. “75% of patients self report their FGM, 43 de-infibulations were reported to have taken place over a three month period within acute providers, and FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
“I was cut at the age of seven together with my siblings, I remember one of them fainted and was rushed to the hospital”, said Mariam Ali survivor of FGM. Sharing her experience Ms Ali disclosed that she was subjected to type three FGM, (Infibulation) which is the cutting of the vaginal lips and stitch down to narrow the opening through the creation of a covering seal, and still live with the pain and the trauma.
Mariam called on everyone to help protect any child at risk of FGM as the practice she added is harmful and has no health benefits.
The conference was attended by many health professionals, police, safeguarding children board, youth and women activist groups.