More cases of female genital mutilation identified

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The NHS has revealed the identification of 467 cases of female genital mutilation in England during last month.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) data, another 1279 people, who had been identified previously, are currently receiving treatment.

This is the first time that the NHS has collected figures on this criminal act.

This practice has been illegal in Britain since 1985, however no-one has ever been convicted of the crime.

The HSCIC revelation of data is an attempt at understanding the level of the problem.

It showed that the crime is occurring across England, with at least 50% happening in London.

The chairman of the HSCIC, Kingsley Manning, said this is the first time national collection of NHS data related to FGM cases has been done and it will continue in the future. He said having accurate data about this crime may help prevent it in the future.

Estimated figures suggest that almost 170,000 girls and women residing in the UK may have undergone female genital mutilation.

During July, a group of MPs said the failure to tackle FGM was a ‘national scandal’ and blamed the inaction on a ‘misplaced concern for cultural sensitivities’. Later during that month, Prime Minister David Cameron, announced that parents in England and Wales would be prosecuted if they did not prevent this act on their daughters.

John Cameron from the NSPCC said the data indicates the importance of health professionals being trained to spot the signs of FGM so that those who are subjected to this practice can be offered post-traumatic support.

Facts related to female genital mutilation, provided by the World Health Organisation:

• It includes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia
• It is practised in 29 African countries and in some countries situated in the Middle East and Asia
• Around three million women and girls globally are at risk on an annual basis
• Around 125 million females are estimated to be living with the consequences of this brutal act
• It is normally performed on young girls, between infancy and the age of about 15
• It is motivated by beliefs around what is considered to be proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a female for adulthood and marriage, and to ensure ‘pure femininity’
• The dangers of the practice include severe bleeding, infections, infertility, urination problems and an increased risk of death of the newborn during childbirth
• During December 2012, a resolution was approved by the UN General Assembly asking all of its member states to ban this practice

Image Credit: Shayne Thomas

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