Concern Grows In Britain Over Female Genital Mutilation

AP, July 11, 2007

Female genital mutilation, commonly associated with parts of Africa and the Middle East, is becoming a growing problem in Britain despite authorities’ efforts to stamp it out.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police force, hopes a campaign beginning Wednesday will highlight that the practice is a crime here.

To make their point, police are offering a 20,000-pound (euro29,500; US$40,000) reward for information leading to Britain’s first prosecution for female genital mutilation, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Jeffrey said.

In Britain, the problem mostly involves first-generation immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.

Police say they do not have comprehensive statistics about the number of victims. But midwife Comfort Momoh, who specializes in treating them at London hospitals and clinics and who works with police, told the news conference she treats 400-500 victims every year.

Arranging or carrying out the procedure—in Britain or abroad—is a criminal offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but no one has been prosecuted since it was banned under British law in 2003, Jeffrey said. Police estimate up to 66,000 girls in Britain face the risk of genital mutilation.

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