FGM fears grow as number of at-risk or affected UK children doubles
Social workers carrying out assessments in 2017-2018
classified 1,960 children as either having undergone or being at risk of FGM.
The figure marks a sharp rise from the previous year, when 970 cases were identified.
The true number of at-risk children is likely to be far higher, as the practice remains widely under-reported, warned the Local Government Association, or LGA, which analyzed government records for its findings. The LGA did not offer a reason for the apparent increase in at-risk children, but noted that awareness has increased and social workers can identify it quicker than before.
Incidents of child abuse related to faith or belief, including witchcraft and spirit possession, were found to have risen by 12%. Last year, there were 1,630 cases of such abuse, the LGA said, an increase from 1,460 the year before.
The findings demonstrate “the worrying prevalence of FGM, which is ruining lives and destroying communities,” said Anita Lower of the LGA.
“At a time when they should be preparing for adult life and enjoying being young, no girl or young woman should be subject to the horrors of genital mutilation, which is child abuse and cannot be justified for any reason,” Lower added.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, almost 5,000 women and girls in the UK were newly identified as victims of FGM, according to the National Health Service.
Figures of children identified as being at risk were not collected before 2016-2017, so annual rates can only be compared over the past two years.