500 UK Girls Seek Medical Treatment for FGM

NHS figures show 467 newly identified cases of girls and women needing treatment after female genital mutilation in England last month.

A further 1,279 people, who had already been identified, were receiving treatment according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) data.

It is the first time the NHS has collected figures on the criminal act.

The children's charity the NSPCC said the numbers were "shocking".

The cutting of girls' genitalia has been illegal in Britain since 1985, but nobody has been convicted in the courts.

The HSCIC data is an attempt to understand the scale of the problem.

It shows the crime is happening in all regions in England although half of the cases were in London.

'Scandal'

Kingsley Manning, the chairman of the HSCIC, said: "This is the first national collection of NHS data about numbers of FGM cases and we will continue to collect and publish these figures.

"Having accurate data about this crime is an important step in helping prevent its occurrence in the future."

Estimates suggest that up to 170,000 women and girls living in the UK may have undergone FGM.

In July, a group of MPs said failing to tackle FGM was a "national scandal" and blamed a "misplaced concern for cultural sensitivities" for inaction.

In a conference later that month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that parents, in England and Wales, would face prosecution if they failed to stop their daughters undergoing FGM.

Female genital mutilation

  • Includes "the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons"
  • Practised in 29 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East
  • An estimated 3 million girls and women worldwide are at risk each year
  • About 125 million victims estimated to be living with the consequences
  • It is commonly carried out on young girls, often between infancy and the age of 15
  • Often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a girl or woman for adulthood and marriage and to ensure "pure femininity"
  • Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth
  • In December 2012, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for all member states to ban the practice

Source: World Health Organization

The Department of Health said collecting the data was a "major milestone" for efforts to end female genital mutilation "in one generation here in the UK".

Responding to the figures, John Cameron from the NSPCC said: "These are shocking figures and prove that FGM is very much a live public health issue.

"This NHS data shows just how vital it is that health professionals are trained to spot the signs of FGM so we can ensure that women and girls who are subjected to this brutal practice get the post-traumatic support they deserve."

Janet Fyle, a policy advisor at the the Royal College of Midwives, commented: "This is a ground-breaking and a historic day, but also a wake-up call that half the reported cases were in London.

"We hope that we can eradicate this practice by protecting those girls at risk and offer appropriate care and support to the survivors."

(source)

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