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NHS records 1,036 new FGM cases in three months

Published 23/09/2015

The NHS is recording data on female genital mutilation for the first time
The NHS is recording data on female genital mutilation for the first time

More than 1,000 women have been recorded as having their genitals mutilated, new quarterly NHS figures show.

Among women attending hospitals, GP surgeries and mental health centres, there were 1,036 newly-recorded cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in England between April and June this year.

There were a total of 1,159 attendances where the patient was identified as having FGM. Nine of the women or girls were aged under 18 when they were first seen.

The NHS is recording patient level data on FGM for the first time.

The data, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), found women and girls were most likely to self-report that they had suffered FGM.

According to the HSCIC, the data covers FGM, however it is identified.

This could be a woman or girl with FGM having treatment directly related to it, or where FGM has been identified by the care provider or the patient herself.

FGM is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to take a female abroad for the purposes of FGM.

The maximum jail term for carrying out or enabling FGM is 14 years.

In February, an NHS doctor was cleared of performing FGM on a young mother.

Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, was accused of carrying out the illegal procedure when stitching the woman after she gave birth at the Whittington Hospital, north London, in 2012.

A second man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, of Holloway, north London, was cleared of aiding and abetting him.

The trial marked the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), FGM is carried out for social and religious reasons and is an "extreme form of discrimination against women".

Babies born to women who have undergone FGM suffer a higher rate of death compared with those born to women who have not undergone the procedure.

Women with FGM also have increased risk of stillbirth, babies that need resuscitation and low birth weight babies.

FGM is estimated to lead to an extra one or two baby deaths per 100 deliveries worldwide.

Tanya Barron, chief executive of the charity Plan UK, which works to combat FGM worldwide, said: "It's shocking to see the extent of FGM here in the UK.

"We've seen hugely increased attention on this problem in the past few years and we are now waking up to the scale of this terrible practice.

"What we must always keep in mind though is that this is not specifically a British problem.

"FGM is a practice with an inherently global dimension.

"And while it's vital that we do everything we can to stop FGM here in the UK, as well as to support the girls and women affected by it, the reality is that this practice won't end in the UK until it is ended worldwide."

Celia Jeffreys, head of the National FGM Centre, which is funded by the Department for Education, said: " FGM is child abuse and no girl should ever have to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of this harmful practice.

"These new numbers help highlight the scale of this problem and show where it is most prevalent.

"Every part of the UK should have people with the skills to support FGM survivors, not just areas with the most women and girls who need help."

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