Scale of bar­baric FGM on ba­bies in city re­vealed Sick­en­ing cul­tural prac­tice con­demned

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Ali­son Stacey Health Cor­re­spon­dent

TEN Birm­ing­ham baby girls un­der a year old have be­come vic­tims of ‘bar­baric’ fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion (FGM).

Shock­ing NHS fig­ures show that in just three months, city doc­tors recorded 10 new cases of ba­bies who had un­der­gone the har­row­ing pro­ce­dure.

All were not yet 12 months old when they un­der­went the sick­en­ing pro­ce­dure in cases un­cov­ered be­tween April and June this year.

The fig­ures also re­veal that 15 chil­dren aged be­tween one and four years old were also re­ported to be FGM vic­tims by Birm­ing­ham medics.

In to­tal, there were 140 new cases of the abuse in the city in those three months, ac­cord­ing to data pub­lished by NHS Dig­i­tal. In many cases, the ages of pa­tients were not in­cluded, but of those recorded most vic­tims were be­tween five and nine years old.

FGM refers to pro­ce­dures that in­ten­tion­ally al­ter or cause in­jury to the fe­male gen­i­tal or­gans for non­med­i­cal rea­sons.

In some cul­tures it is often car­ried out to ‘pre­serve vir­gin­ity’ or as a ‘prepa­ra­tion for mar­riage’.

It has been il­le­gal in the UK since 1985, and in 2003 the law was strengthened to pre­vent girls trav­el­ling from the UK and un­der­go­ing FGM abroad.

But doc­tors in Birm­ing­ham are record­ing an av­er­age two cases of FGM a day, with 74 per cent of them recorded as new vic­tims. Across Eng­land 1,015 new cases were recorded in the same three­month pe­riod, 40 per cent of them in Lon­don, and 14 per cent in Birm­ing­ham. Most of the women and girls af­fected were born in east and north Africa, where they un­der­went FGM be­fore com­ing to Great Bri­tain. But 25 cases recorded in Eng­land from April to June are be­lieved to have been car­ried out in the UK Na­tional chil­drens’ char­ity the NSPCC con­demned the prac­tice as bar­baric abuse, and said it was all too com­mon. “Fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion is a bar­baric prac­tice that leaves its vic­tims phys­i­cally and men­tally scarred,” said Ally Sul­tana, NSPCC Mid­lands cam­paigns man­ager.

“We urge any young women or girls deal­ing with the phys­i­cal and emo­tional im­pact of FGM to seek help and sup­port. These lat­est fig­ures show that sadly this abuse is all too com­mon­place.

“Since the launch of our FGM helpline in 2013, we have re­ceived hun- dreds of calls from mem­bers of the pub­lic, as well as pro­fes­sion­als who have ques­tions about how best to sup­port women and girls at risk of this com­plex form of abuse.”

“Many peo­ple don’t re­port their con­cerns be­cause. they are ashamed and wor­ried about be­tray­ing friends and fam­ily,” added Ally Sul­tana.

“That’s why it’s so im­por­tant that com­mu­ni­ties, fam­i­lies and pro­fes­sion­als work to­gether and speak up to help break the si­lence that sur­rounds FGM.”

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