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Thousands of women treated in UK for genital mutilation

Thousands of women have been treated in British hospitals after undergoing the barbaric act of female genital mutilation, figures suggest.

General view of signage for an Emergency Department.
Thousands of women subject to genital mutilation across London. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Since 2009, nearly 4,000 women and girls have been treated in London hospitals after undergoing the procedure.

New figures found that across 31 NHS hospital trusts in the capital, 3,939 patients had been treated.

Last year, health experts warned that the health and social care system was "failing" young girls who were at risk of genital mutilation, which is classed as torture by the United Nations.

They said more needed to be done in the UK to safeguard young girls and babies at risk of the brutal procedure.

There have been no prosecutions for female mutilation, even though it has been banned in the UK since 1985.

Duchess of Cornwall backs efforts to stamp out FGM

The Duchess of Cornwall has given her backing to efforts to stamp out female genital mutilation (FGM), according to a leading campaigner.

The Duchess of Cornwall (right) talks with a guest during a reception for the Southbank Centre's Women of the World festival Credit: Press Association

Anti-FGM charity founder Nimco Ali said Camilla gave the "royal seal of approval" during a reception for the Southbank Centre's Women of the World festival, which starts next month.

Actress Natascha McElhone (left) speaks with the Duchess of Cornwall during a reception for the Southbank Centre's Women of the World Credit: Press Association

The co-founder of the Daughters of Eve charity said: "Camilla said she thinks the campaign is terrific and she heard about the stuff we're doing. She said she was impressed with the work and wanted more information about the campaign."

Camilla's support comes after the Equality and Human Rights Commission today wrote to Norman Baker, the minister responsible for the Government's strategy to combat FGM.

In the letter to the minister, the EHRC expressed concern that the £100,000 fund identified for charities to raise awareness about FGM is inadequate.

Read: Government to tackle female genital mutilation


NHS must report cases of female genital mutilation

Ministers from across government have pushed through tough new measures to stop the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), making it mandatory for all NHS hospitals to provide information on patients who have undergone FGM.

It is now mandatory for doctors to report cases of FGM
It is now mandatory for doctors to report cases of FGM Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/

From April this year NHS hospitals will be required to record:

1 If a patient has had FGM

2 If there is a family history of FGM

3 If an FGM-related procedure has been carried out on a women - (deinfibulation)

By September this year, all acute hospitals must report this data centrally to the Department of Health on a monthly basis.

"In order to combat it and ensure we can care properly for the girls and women who have undergone mutilation we need to build a more accurate nationwide picture of the challenge. This is the first step towards doing that," said Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison.

Read: Government to announce plans to tackle female genital mutilation in Britain


CPS 'raising its game' over female genital mutilation

The director of public prosecutions has insisted the Crown Prosecution Service is "raising its game" over prosecution against female genital mutilation.

Alison Saunders told The TImes the CPS is "stepping up" what they are doing, including looking at evidence secured by covert surveillance to avoid children having to testify in court.

I want to make sure we are there to provide advice to the police forces dealing with cases, as these are incredibly difficult to prosecute.

This network will share information so that we are raising our game consistently across the country.

– Director of Public Prosecution Alison Saunders

Doctors 'still failing to report' female genital mutilation

Doctors are still failing to report suspected cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police, a senior Scotland Yard officer has warned.

Detective Superintendent Jason Ashwood, head of Scotland Yard's FGM team, told The Times that young girls who are at risk of or are recovering from cutting are being let down because "professionals" in the public sector are not safeguarding children.

The latest figures suggest that as many as 66,000 women in England and Wales have undergone FGM and 23,000 girls under the age of 15 are "at risk".

His calls for tougher action mark the United Nation's annual day of zero tolerance to FGM.

Genital mutilation 'scars mentally and physically for life'

Female genital mutilation (FGM) leaves women "mentally and physically scarred for life", a victim said.

Read: 23,000 girls 'at risk of genital mutilation'

Sarian Karim underwent female genital mutilation when she was just 11. Credit: Press Association

Sarian Karim endured FGM when she was 11 years old in her home of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Describing her experience to highlight the dangers of the practice, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985, she said:

"It was secretive and I knew children and women had been through the practice but no one spoke about it. There was an excitement about it, as it was regarded as a 'coming of age' ceremony.

"I was happy to be initiated but I did not know what it would involve and the impact that it would have on me as an adult."

"FGM is a normal thing for us. We don't know it is against the law, but I know that it damages girls and leaves them scarred for life - mentally and physically.

"It is very important that everyone knows that FGM is illegal. We suffer from a lot of complications (because of the procedure). We want those people who work in schools to have guidelines and be able to inform, prepare and protect children."

Read: Genital mutilation 'robs girls of their childhood'

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