2,000 Female Genital Mutilation Victims Seek Help at London Hospitals in Just Three Years but True Figure Is ‘Far More than Figures Show’
Martin Robinson, Daily Mail (London), September 6, 2013
More than 2,100 victims of female genital mutilation have been treated in London hospitals since 2010, it emerged today.
Almost 300 women needed surgery to help them recover from the brutal ritual, new figures have revealed.
Among those treated in the capital’s hospitals included 12 children, including one girl who had been left with an ‘open wound’ following the criminal act.
Despite being illegal in the UK, female genital mutilation is on the rise with an estimated 66,000 women dealing with the after-effects and more than 20,000 young girls thought to be at risk.
The procedure is associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.
Many girls living in Britain are taken to these countries for be ‘cut’, and some will be as young as five.
But it is becoming more prevalent in the UK and experts say today’s figures are ‘truly shocking’ but there are ‘far more victims’ than the data shows.
In the majority of cases the clitoris is removed because it gives sexual pleasure.
A total of 2,115 FGM patients were seen between 2010 and now, the Evening Standard has revealed.
Dr Comfort Momoh, a specialist in dealing with these injuries at St Thomas’ Hospital, said: ‘These statistics show a very significant number of women are being treated for FGM.
‘But there are still lots out there who are not being identified because they don’t know where to go for help, aren’t being referred by GPs or are too scared to come forward.
‘I’m really worried about girls, in particular. Where are they going to seek help? The GPs who are their first point of call often don’t have the knowledge. We also need teachers and lecturers to do more to at least signpost girls towards help.’
Nimko Ali was seven when she underwent Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia and now campaigns against it through her charity Daughters of Eve.
‘For too long, it has been passed off as a “cultural” ritual. But this act is not about celebration. FGM is gender-based violence, it’s as simple as that,’ she said.
It came as Director of Public Keir Starmer said it was ‘only a matter of time’ before there is a prosecution for female genital mutilation.
‘I think a prosecution is much closer now than it’s been at any stage since this was made a criminal offence in this country,’ he said.
‘We have devised a strategy, and we have now got the intelligence-led operations that are bringing us very close to a prosecution.
‘I do not think that’s a failure–that is trying to grapple with a difficult problem. If it was easy there would have been a prosecution.’