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England records 5,300 new cases of female genital mutilation

England records 5,300 new cases of female genital mutilation
By Chris Harris
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Doctors in England dealt with more than 5,300 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the last year, fresh data reveals.

Nearly half of the recorded victims in 2016/17 were based in the capital London, according to the report by NHS Digital.

It mainly affects women and girls born abroad: just 112 were native to the UK, while around a third were Somalian.

FGM – sometimes referred to as female circumcision – is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as procedures that “intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

The practice is illegal in the UK, but there is yet to be any convictions.

A spokesman from the NSPCC said: “FGM is child abuse. Despite being illegal for over 30 years, too many people are still being subjected to it and it is right that health services have started to properly record evidence of this horrendous practice.

“The NSPCC Helpline is contacted more than once a day by people worried about girls who may have suffered, or are at risk of, FGM.

“It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family.

“But we need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.’

This is the second year the NHS has collected figures. In 2015/2016 there were around 6,000 new cases but the health body warns against making comparisons as the data from this year – when reporting of FGM became mandatory – is less reliable.

It is estimated around 500,000 women and girls are affected by FGM in Europe, but there is a lack of reliable, comparable data.

End FGM European Network said the EU’s refugee crisis meant more girls and women were arriving on the continent’s doorstep scarred by the problem.

Earlier this year campaigners claimed babies were being cut in some parts of Africa. They said it was part a growing trend of offenders targeting victims younger and younger, in a bid to dodge justice.

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