Government to announce plans to tackle female genital mutilation in Britain

ITV News has learned that the government will announce tomorrow plans to tackle female genital mutilation in Britain.

The number of victims is not clear, but the government estimates 66,000 women have undergone the brutal practice and around 20,000 girls are at risk every year.

MP Lynne Featherstone said action is being taken:

But it's the lack of accurate information that the government wants to combat, by telling doctors they must report it when they find it.

It means, for the first time, the government will be able to build a national picture of the problem.

Around 70 girls,some a young as seven, seek treatment every month.

Despite this there has not yet been a single prosecution even though it has been a crime since 1985.

FGM is practised in more than 40 African countries as well as in the Middle East and Asia.

Siham, a 20 -year-old student from Birmingham has spoken out in the hope that it will help others like her. She is a victim herself and was cut when she was just seven years old in Somalia.

She believes the practise is still happening and girls born in the UK are being taken abroad to be cut.

It is child abuse, it's done to a child and no child should have to go through that. I went from being a happy lively girl to being withdrawn and lonely is changed me completely.

– Siham, FGM victim

ITV News spoke to several women who are victims and they agree. They believe one way to deal with the problem is to check all girls from communities affected by FGM.

One woman said: Many people in our communities believe a girl should be cut to be clean they don't realise, they need educating. And although it is illegal how is it being enforced?

All the women told ITV News they have suffered serious medical problems as a result of FGM.

One woman said: My life is terrible it follows you where ever you go. I am in pain all the time.

Dr Phoebe Abe who is a GP originally from Uganda says: "These women are suffering. The politicians are starting to wake up but it needs to trickle down to the communities at grass roots level."

Dr Phoebe Abe adds that most doctors are already aware of FGM:

The NSPCC launched a helpline line which has received more than 100 calls since it opened last summer. The Crown Prosecution Service has told us they are investigating 7 cases and believe they are the closest they have ever been to a prosecution.

Campaigners say the Government is starting to wake up but this is only the beginning to break down the wall of silence.

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