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First ever audit reveals 5,700 new FGM cases across England

Women and girls from Somali account for one third of new reports

Mark Gould

Friday, 22 July 2016

The first ever annual FGM statistics for England show that there were 5,702 newly-recorded cases last year.

The figures from the Health and Social Care information centre (HSIC) reveal that women and girls born in Somalia account for more than one third (37%) of newly-recorded cases of FGM with a known country of birth.

However, the HSCIC say the figures should be treated with some caution because data completeness is often low and varies by submitting GP practice and mental health trust.

Some 112 NHS trusts and 38 GP practices submitted one or more FGM attendance record. Submission was mandated for acute trusts from July 2015 and for GP practices and mental health trusts from October 2015 onwards.

The statistics reveal that 43 women and girls who self-reported were born in the UK. In 18 cases, FGM was undertaken in the UK, including 11 women and girls who were born in the UK. The five- to nine-year-old age group was the most common age range at which FGM was undertaken. This equates to 43% (582) of the total number of cases from any country, where the age at the time of undertaking was known.

Janet Fyle, the professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "The RCM commends the Department of Health for the regular collecting and reporting on FGM data.

"However, the RCM remains concerned by the number of girls born in the UK who have undergone FGM and we are even more alarmed that FGM had taken place in the UK, where it is illegal."

She said it is “of vital importance” to have a national action plan with legal framework that cannot be varied, “so perpetrators are prosecuted for FGM and held to account for their actions”.

Janet Fyle added: “Midwives are one of the key frontline healthcare professions in detecting and helping to prevent female genital mutilation, but all healthcare professionals need to be vigilant in identifying those at risk.”

The RCM provides members with learning resources, such as i-learn tutorials, and practical advice and support to enable them to continue identifying women and children at risk, or survivors, of FGM.

The news comes just days after the head of the United Nations Population Fund branded FGM "child abuse" for the first time ever.

The data will be used to support the Department of Health's FGM prevention programme and improve the NHS response to FGM by raising awareness, enabling the provision of services and management of FGM, and safeguarding girls at risk.

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