A HOST of major organisations in Bradford have united to make a stand against the practice of female genital mutilation.

West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Council and Bradford College joined campaigners and legal teams as they signed a pledge to tackle the crime, to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM, also known as female circumcision, is a common practice in many African countries and because of migration is becoming a problem in places like Bradford.

It is often carried out on babies and side effects can include infections, menstrual problems, infertility and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Today's event, at Bradford’s City Hall, was led by West Bowling-based charity Peacemaker International, which has been running a campaign against the practice called ‘Leaving It Intact’.

Its chief executive, Nigerian-born Yemi Fagborun, who underwent the practice as a baby, spoke about her experience.

She said she would campaign until her “last breath to make sure that everyone is aware of the consequences of FGM”.

She said: “Female circumcision, or female genital mutilation, is a life sentence. It can never be reversed.

“Once you have it done, you have it done for life and we see so many people paralysed as a result of that. Many children have died as a result of that.”

Also present was Bradford resident Leticia Jemiyo, formerly of Nigeria, who once worked as a midwife and whose duties included performing the procedures.

She is now a campaigner against the practice and had baked a cake for the occasion, decorated with the slogan, ‘Zero tolerance FGM’.

Former Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Joanne Dodds, signed the pledge as the Council’s ambassador for this campaign.

She said: “Female genital mutilation is a dreadful crime; it is child abuse.

“We need to spread awareness as best we can throughout all communities, to stop one generation from passing the practice onto the next.

“We are working with the police and other organisations to help prevent FGM happening to any girl or young woman, in our district and across West Yorkshire.

“The health risks can be serious and even fatal in terms of acquiring infections and complications caused during childbirth.

“It is a form of abuse and violence against women and girls which is why it is an important part of existing child and adult protection procedures.”