The “shocking” extent of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK is beginning to be exposed. In the first year that the NHS has been required to collect such data, it was revealed that there were 1,036 new cases of FGM recorded in the past three months alone.
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) only started collecting data on the crime in September 2014, when recording FGM attendance in hospitals and GP surgeries became mandatory in the UK.
Since then, in just 12 months, there have been 4,989 cases reported nationally. From April to June this year alone there were 1,036 newly recorded cases in England, with a total of 1,159 attendances.
The vast majority of cases are likely to remain unrecorded. Home Secretary Theresa May warned last years that an estimated 137,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM, in every corner of the UK, and a further 60,000 are at risk.
Expert Tanya Barron, chief executive of children’s charity Plan UK, which works to combat FGM worldwide, told The Daily Mail:
“It’s shocking to see the extent of FGM here in the UK.
“We’ve seen hugely increased attention on this problem in the past few years and we are now waking up to the scale of this terrible practice. What we must always keep in mind though is that this is not specifically a British problem.
“FGM is a practice with an inherently global dimension. And while it’s vital that we do everything we can to stop FGM here in the UK, as well as to support the girls and women affected by it, the reality is that this practice won’t end in the UK until it had ended worldwide.”
Mary Wandia, FGM programme manager at Equality Now, a charity campaigning for victims, warned the figures are likely to increase further, saying: “that nearly 10,000 girls under 14 living in England or Wales are likely to have undergone FGM, so HSCIC figures are likely to continue to increase.”
FGM is practiced across much of the Muslim world and sub-Saharan Africa. It involves either cutting the clitoris, removing the outer genitalia or stitching the vagina closed.
The purpose of the practice is to suppress female sexuality and sexual pleasure, and so ensure a women remain virgins.
Laws around FGM have recently been tightened in UK, and the maximum jail term for carrying out or enabling FGM is now 14 years. However, there has yet to be single prosecution in the UK for this violent crime.
Some experts believe the UK lags behind countries like France in addressing the problem because of a culture of political correctness.
FGM Forced marriage Honour killings No. A private compliment on LinkedIn https://t.co/2k0zusepps
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