Statistics published by NHS digital have revealed that 5,025 cases of Female Genital Mutilation were brought to the attention of NHS England London between February 2015 and March 2016.
Based on the figures the UK still has a long way to go before the practice of FGM is eradicated completely. The national statistic for FGM during that period was 8,656. London accounts for 58.1% of that figure.
Of these 5,025 cases, the majority affected (855) were aged between thirty and thirty-four. Twenty-five were aged between ten and seventeen, and thirty-five were under the age of ten.
The problem is at its worst in the North West of the city, with London North West Healthcare accounting for just under a third (1,530) of all cases reported in London.
The Midlands and East of England came second highest and South of England third, with 1,245 and 1,070 total FGM cases coming to the attention of the NHS, respectively. The North of England came in lowest, with 305 reported incidents.
Female Genital Mutilation or FGM, is described by the NHS as a term used to indicate a procedure by which the female genitals are “deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there’s no medical reason for this to be done.”
It is usually carried out before puberty begins, generally before the age of fifteen, however it can occur as early as infancy.
FGM is performed in the name of various cultural, religious and social reasons in the misguided belief it is beneficial to girls, however it is not required by any religion and is a fundamentally harmful practice that is outlawed in the UK.
Graphic showing the number of FGM victims by age
In light of this information, far-right party UKIP have made the prevention of FGM part of their proposed ‘Integration Agenda’ before the General Election on the 8th of June. A party produced informational leaflet stated their plans to “implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.”
The leaflet also says that the party plan to “make failure to report an instance of FGM by someone who has knowledge that it has taken place a criminal offence itself.”
These proposals have caused outrage amongst many activists, including anti-FGM campaigner Nimko Ali who tweeted saying “Forcing girls at risk of FGM to have medical checks is an abuse of their human rights”.
Former president of UEA Pride, Bronia McGregor, agrees. “Proposing annual medical checks on children is abhorrent and quite frankly, just racist.
“Specifying that these checks will also happen whenever a child returns from overseas could mean that children are subjected to invasive procedures several times a year. This might discourage families from taking these trips at all, which in turn could create unnecessary separation from any family living outside the UK.”
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said in an interview with Express and Star that people’s responses to their plans have “trivialised” their claims, and claimed his party is “ten years ahead” of their rivals on key matters such as immigration and Brexit.