Newly released figures for the number of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cases, in England and Wales, reveal that over 1,000 women have been treated for FGM in just three months by the NHS.
The figures, recorded from April-June this year, found that 1,026 victims were treated, nine of which were girls under the age of 18. The statistics also revealed that 75% of the cases were self-reported.
The figures are likely to increase further because as of 1 June this year reporting suspected cases became mandatory for GP’s, and other stakeholders and healthcare providers.
While a lot of work has been undertaken to raise the profile of this abhorrent crime, particularly within the Home Office and the Department of Education, it is truly shocking that so many cases are still emerging. Nevertheless the work done by these departments’ means that more and more victims are starting to feel confident to seek help.
Despite the emergence of greater numbers of victims, campaigners remain concerned that they still don’t receive enough support, both physically and psychologically.
Mary Wandia, FGM programme manager at the NGO Equality Now, said: “Our figures with City University show that nearly 10,000 girls under 14 living in England or Wales are likely to have undergone FGM. Cases are likely to exist in every single local authority,” she said.
If Equality Now is right then we really are only scratching the surface of this terrible crime. As reporting becomes mandatory I fear the next figures will start to reveal an even greater number of victims.
Although FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 it remains prevalent in other parts of the world. For example, it is estimated in Africa some three million girls annually undergo FGM.
It is a global problem which we must continue to fight to eradicate. An enormous amount of work is required to achieve this and these figures tell only part of the story.