ITV News Central special investigation into female genital mutilation

Siham was mutilated in Somalia at the age of seven Credit: ITV News Central

ITV News Central has been told girls from the UK are being taken abroad to be genitally mutilated. It is illegal to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK or to take a British girl abroad to get it done.

Siham, a 20-year-old student from Birmingham says FGM is child abuse and that it is being done to girls from the UK.

FGM has been against the law in the UK since 1985 but no one has ever been prosecuted for it although cases of it happening in the UK have been investigated.

Now that may be changing.

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.

A select committee inquiry is also investigating why there have not been any prosecutions for FGM in almost 30 years. It is being supported by the Home Office.

The announcement comes after a midwife in the West Midlands said she is treating around five or six women a week in her specialist clinic for FGM. She says many women may not understand fully what FGM is or why it has been done to them and it only becomes apparent when she has a baby.

The government's decision to require hospitals to record instances of FGM will be good news for girls like Siham who are suffering, long after the cutting knives are put away.

When Siham was 12 she had reached puberty and was in so much pain because of what had been done to her as a child, she had to go to a doctor for help.

A few days later she tried visiting a female doctor who did not know what FGM was either. She gave up.

There are thousands of women across the UK who are in Siham's situation. They know only too painfully that without real determination to bring offenders to justice and to stop this brutal practice, more girls will suffer.

If you have suffered FGM or know someone who has, Daughters of Eve is a specialist charity offering support to women who have been mutilated. The NSPCC also has a national helpline for anyone to call if they think someone is at risk of FGM.