Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common. The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women's sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honor, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion.
There have been international efforts since the 1970s to persuade practitioners to abandon FGM, and it has been outlawed or restricted in most of the countries in which it occurs, although the laws are poorly enforced. NHS Digital which goal is to improve health and social care in England by making better use of technology, data and information, released data which is covering the period from April 2016 to March 2017 and includes figures from both NHS trusts and GP practices. According to the data, the last year there were 9,179 attendances in which FGM was either identified, treatment was given, or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl. In total, 5,391 attendances were recorded in the system for the first time – 114 of which were girls under the age of 16.
Wendy Preston, the head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said that despite heightened discussion of FGM, “the number of women and girls subjected to it is not falling fast enough.” “Yet recent figures show the number of school nurses (who play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk) has fallen 16% since 2010, largely as a result of government cuts to local authority health budgets. It is not right that vulnerable children pay the price for funding reductions and poor workforce planning,” she added.
Only 26 percent of women and girls involved in newly recorded cases reported the country in which the FGM took place and 1,229 of these cases took place in Africa, while 57 occurred in the UK. The FGM Centre, a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, was set up in 2015, but Fassam-Wright, the acting director of the National FGM Centre, said it is in danger of closing. He said: “We are in the position where unless we get decisions about our funding by 21 July then the center will unfortunately have to close.”
“We have strengthened the law on this through the Serious Crime Act 2015. It is now an offence if you fail to protect a girl from FGM. We have also created a mandatory reporting duty requiring professionals to report known cases of FGM to the police and have provided lifelong anonymity for victims,” a government spokesman said.
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