More that 5,000 new female genital mutilation (FGM) cases were recorded in England last year, with more than 9,000 women and girls attending the National Health Service (NHS) due to the gruesome practice.
Almost half involved women and girls living in London, a third were women and girls born in Somalia, and 112 cases were UK-born nationals.
The data released by NHS Digital covers the period between April 2016 and March 2017, and includes numbers from both NHS trusts and GP practices.
These statistics show that in the last year there were 9,179 attendances in which FGM was either identified, treatment was given, or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl.
In total, 5,391 attendances were recorded in the system for the first time – 114 of which were girls under the age of 16.
FGM is common in many African nations and has become increasingly common in the UK with mass migration.
The gruesome practice, used to suppress and control female sexuality, has been illegal in the UK since 1985 but no one has ever been prosecuted for the crime in Britain.
The NSPCC said more should be done to end the practice. A spokesman told the BBC.
“FGM is child abuse. Despite being illegal for over 30 years, too many people are still being subjected to it and it is right that health services have started to properly record evidence of this horrendous practice.
“It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family. But we need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.”
The UKIP Independence party was criticised for proposing mandatory reporting and annual medical checks for girls in “at-risk minority” groups in their 2017 manifesto.
Now similar ideas are gathering support in the UK and are already in use in France. Wendy Preston, from the Royal College of Nursing, said:
“Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex-and-relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk.
“The government must act to attract and retain school nurses, to help address the problem at grassroots level, and maintain momentum in the fight to eradicate FGM.”