First clinic for young FGM vic­tims sees just 5 in a year

The Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Martin Beck­ford HOME AF­FAIRS EDITOR

BRI­TAIN’S first clinic for young vic­tims of fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion, or FGM, has seen just five girls in the past year, The Mail on Sun­day can re­veal

In to­tal, the ser­vice – which has cost more than £70,000 over and above staff salaries – has treated just 43 pa­tients since it opened four years ago.

Last night some ex­perts said the lack of pa­tients at the chil­dren’s FGM clinic within Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Hos­pi­tal Lon­don raised ques­tions about how preva­lent the bar­baric prac­tice is in this coun­try.

FGM has been called a ‘ na­tional scan­dal’ by MPs, and the Gov­ern­ment has spent more than £35 mil­lion on try­ing to erad­i­cate it, but de­spite three high-pro­file tri­als there has still not been a suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tion.

The clinic for girls aged un­der 18 who have un­der­gone FGM has been op­er­at­ing since Septem­ber 2014, and is run by con­sul­tant gy­nae­col­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Sarah Creighton and con­sul­tant pae­di­a­tri­cian Dr Deb­o­rah Hodes. It op­er­ates once a month and ex­am­ines girls who have been re­ferred by po­lice, GPs or so­cial ser­vices to see if they need med­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal help.

Af­ter it had been run­ning for 12 months, Prof Creighton said that ‘our clin­ics have been full through­out the last year’. How­ever fig­ures pre­sented to the trust’s board last month and ob­tained by this news­pa­per show that eight chil­dren were seen in 2014-15, then 16 the fol­low­ing year. An­other 14 pa­tients were seen in 2016-17 then just five in the past fi­nan­cial year.

Asked for more de­tails un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion laws, the trust said all the girls re­ferred to the clinic had con­firmed FGM but would not say how many un­der­went the prac­tice in the UK, where it is il­le­gal. Fig­ures sug­gest most cases take place over­seas.

Last night ex-mid­wife Brid He­hir said: ‘These fig­ures con­firm what was sus­pected from the out­set. The sup­posed epi­demic of FGM in the UK is en­tirely a fig­ment of fevered imag­i­na­tions. Most chil­dren seen at the clinic must have un­der­gone FGM be­fore com­ing to live in the UK. A girl who un­der­went FGM abroad should be of no in­ter­est ex­cept where it im­pacts neg­a­tively on her health. The in­dus­try that has de­vel­oped around the prac­tice is a huge waste of pub­lic funds.’

The hos­pi­tal said 28 of the pa­tients had suf­fered re­moval of the cli­toris while seven had un­der­gone gen­i­tal pierc­ing or prick­ing.

Lat­est na­tion­wide sta­tis­tics show that 16,455 women and girls seen by doc­tors in Eng­land since 2015 had un­der­gone some form of FGM.

How­ever the NHS re­port ad­mit­ted that, of re­cent pa­tients, 87 per cent en­dured FGM in Africa, while most cases un­der­taken in the UK are le­gal pierc­ings on con­sent­ing adults.

Fig­ures raise doubts about how rife the prac­tice is

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