Child protection experts receive report of possible FGM daily, figures show

February 17 2017, 12.23amUpdated: February 17 2017, 8.07am
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Child protection experts are receiving a report about possible female genital mutilation every day, new figures reveal.

An NSPCC helpline logged 1,564 contacts about girls who may have suffered or are risk of the practice between June 2013 and last month.

It means people are getting in touch with the service to discuss their concerns on average more than once a day.

Callers have even contacted the helpline with fears about babies who they believed were at risk of FGM.

The NSPCC has made 490 referrals to police or social services as a result of the contacts it has received.

A doctor told the helpline: “I have suspicions in relation to a child that I think may have been flown out of the country for the FGM procedure.

“The child was brought into my surgery today but the parent wouldn’t allow me to perform an internal examination on the child.

“The parent was adamant that the child would be checked abroad instead.”

FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, according to the World Health Organisation’s definition.

Previous research has estimated that approximately 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales are affected by the practice.

FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 but authorities have faced criticism over the failure to secure a single conviction.

The NSPCC also highlighted figures on FGM protection orders, which were introduced as part of efforts to safeguard potential victims in July 2015.

As of the end of September, there had been 97 applications and 79 orders made.

Data obtained by the charity under Freedom of Information rules indicates that, while some family courts have made a number of protection orders, there are also areas where none have been issued.

John Cameron, head of NSPCC Helplines, said: “We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that female genital mutilation is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help.

“Some families who subject their children to female genital mutilation may do so because of cultural norms or that they believe it will help their child improve their life.

“It’s vital that everyone realises FGM serves no purpose, and leaves long lasting physical and emotional scars on the victims.

“For far too long, female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended.

“This is child abuse and it is against the law. It has no place in any society.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “FGM is a horrific act of violence that no woman or girl should ever have to suffer. This Government is taking world-leading action to tackle this devastating crime.

“We have significantly strengthened the law on FGM, including introducing a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM, extending the reach of extra territorial offences, and creating civil FGM Protection Orders to ensure we are able to protect women and girls at the earliest opportunity.

“But there is more to do, and Border Force officials at UK ports and airports are trained to look for girls at risk of being sent abroad and those entering the country with the intention of carrying out these heinous acts.”

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