An estimated 170,000 British women are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), and 65,000 girls are at risk, according to the House of Common’s powerful Home Affairs Select committee. The committee believes prosecutors should “send a message” that Britain takes the crime seriously.
The Mirror reports that MPs heard evidence that girls under the age of eight were being subjected to FGM. Despite the practice being a crime since 1985, there have been no convictions.
The committee recommended there should be anonymity for the victim, and that the government should consider making failure to report it a crime in itself. The committee also want doctors to ask questions about FGM during antenatal interviews, and called for teachers to be given additional training.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker, who said he was working with religious leaders to end the practise, said: “Earlier this year, ministers from across government signed a declaration to demonstrate their commitment to end this terrible form of abuse.
“We are working with religious and community leaders to forge a commitment to condemn FGM, and reaching out to communities to encourage them to seek help and advice – and ultimately abandon the practice.
“We will carefully consider the Home Affairs Select Committee’s recommendations and will publish a full response in due course.”
The extent to FGM in Britain is unknown because it is practised in closed ethnic minority communities that the authorities have little knowledge of, or control over.
Ministers say they will look at the suggestions of the Home Affairs Select Committee and are considering additional legislation. However it is unclear what they can do as long as the communities responsible fail to assimilate into wider society.