Much more needs to be done to support survivors of female genital mutilation and protect girls at risk, as the latest NHS statistics reveal there is a newly recorded case of FGM every two hours in the UK.
The National FGM Centre says it is vital for agencies, such as the police, education, health and social care, to work better together to prosecute those who carry out this type of abuse.
According to the latest figures released by NHS Digital (released on July 5) there were 6,195 women and girls treated for FGM in the past financial year and, of those, 4,495 were newly recorded cases.
Of the 6,195 women and girls, 85 cases of FGM took place in the UK.
The most common age range when FGM took place was between 0 and 10 years old. But the statistics reveal it can take years before a medical professional is aware of it – often during an appointment with an obstetrician or gynaecologist.
FGM was detected when the person was still a child (under 18 years old) in just 70 of the 6,195 cases – with it more commonly being discovered during a medical appointment when the woman was aged between 25 and 40.
The National FGM Centre is run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association. Its head, Leethen Bartholomew, said:
“Shockingly, today’s figures confirm that dozens of women and girls born in the UK have undergone FGM, despite the practice being illegal for over 30 years.“Yet there still hasn’t been a single successful prosecution to hold perpetrators to account. FGM is child abuse and it’s vital that we work with affected communities to change hearts and minds about the practice. Agencies must also work better together to prosecute those who fail to protect girls from this type of abuse.”
To outline how the National FGM Centre works with affected communities and agencies, such as the police, education, health and social care, to achieve the target of ending FGM in the UK by 2030 – and also talk about what more can be done – it is holding a conference on Monday.
The event at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will not only feature the work of the centre but will also include clinical psychologist Nimmi Parikh, from Great Ormond Street Hospital, speaking about the psychological impact and Inspector Allen Davis speaking about the Metropolitan Police’s work to tackle FGM.
Leethen Bartholomew added:
“Whilst we are making progress in tackling FGM, we must never be complacent. The Centre’s remit is to help eradicate FGM for girls and women living in England by 2030 but we cannot do this alone.This is why events like the conference on Monday are so vital because it will give everyone working together to tackle FGM an opportunity to stop and reflect on what is working while asking the question of how can we work better together to achieve our goal.”
The conference is taking place in partnership with the Hemraj Goyal Foundation.
Foundation director Anita Goyal said:
“No child should have to suffer from any form of violence.The conference will bring people together from diverse backgrounds and professions, as we strive to not only raise awareness but also to see where the gaps are. While school teachers now are given training in how to identify and handle cases of FGM and honour abuse, historically this was not the case. As a former teacher at a secondary school in Romford, I remember how the subject of FGM and other honour abuse was seen as a taboo, with little to no knowledge in the school about how to handle such cases. The mission of this conference is to educate and to spread the word, in the hopes that we can end all new cases of FGM by 2030.”