The NHS clinics helping victims of genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation, the cutting of sexual organs, is thought to affect 66,000 women in the UK – Published on BBCnews, by Jane Dreaper, May 21, 2013.

Sometimes it happens when young girls are sent back to relatives in north or east Africa, but it is also thought that cutting occurs here in the UK too. There have been no prosecutions so far – though the government says it is determined to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Several hospital and community-based clinics in London help women who have suffered FGM, as well as one in Birmingham and another about to open in Bristol. 

The NHS clinic at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital treats more than 100 women a year who have had their sexual organs cut or sewn up because of cultural beliefs – including Filsan, 35. Now a mother-of-three living in the UK, she was treated to a new dress in her native Somalia at the age of seven. This was in fact a prelude to something sinister – having her organs cut.

Legs tied together: … //

… video, 2.18 min: The Met says 6,000 girls are at risk; … //

… Progress:

Ms Soubry joined the international development minister, Lynne Featherstone, in visiting the clinic at Queen Charlotte’s.

Ms Featherstone recently announced a programme worth £35m which aims to eradicate FGM within a generation – both in the UK and in countries where the practice originates.

She said: There have perhaps been issues in the past about not wanting to tread on cultural eggshells. To an extent it’s been going on behind closed doors in this country – but this is violence against women and child abuse. It’s illegal and we need to stop it. The government is very frustrated about not having been able to prosecute over FGM. The Home Office would like to see action on this. Extra work is now going on – and everyone has a duty to report something that might relate to FGM. France, for example, examines every girl’s genitals until they are six years old. But that wouldn’t be the right approach in this country – because it’s not an issue for most of the population.

Both ministers realise that tackling this distressing problem is complicated, and more work is needed with schools and communities in many of Britain’s big cities.

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