The figures on the number of women in the UK who have suffered female genital mutilation are radically out of date, meaning the problem could be far worse than feared, campaigners say.
The Home Office has agreed to fund a new study into the number of women living in the UK who have been “cut”, usually abroad, in order to identify girls vulnerable to FGM.
Equality Now told HuffPost UK they had lobbied the government for more than a year on the issue. The last set of figures were released in 2007, but based on analysis of the 2001 census, so more than a decade old.
Representatives from 210 villages meeting up for demonstration against child and enforced marriage and female genital mutilation in Senegal
More than 30 million girls are at risk of FGM over the next decade, a study by Unicef reported this week, with more than 125 million girls and women who have undergone the procedure now opposed. The ritual cutting of girls’ genitals is practised by mainly African, and also some Middle Eastern and Asian communities, who believe it protects the sexual purity of girls. No-one in the UK has every been prosecuted under the law which bans FGM. A Home Office spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “There is no justification for Female Genital Mutilation — it is child abuse and it is illegal. “We have agreed to help fund a new study into the prevalence of FGM in the UK. FGM is a key focus in our cross-Government action plan for tackling violence against women and girls and we are working with the Department for International Development and Department for Health to stamp out this abhorrent abuse.
The challenge is to let people – men and women – have their voices heard on the issue, Unicef says
More than 30 million girls are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) over the next decade, a study by Unicef has found.
It said more than 125 million girls and women alive today had undergone a procedure now opposed by the majority in countries where it was practised. Ritual cutting of girls’ genitals is practised by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities in the belief it protects a woman’s virginity.
Unicef wants action to end FGM. The UN Children Fund survey, described as the most comprehensive to date on the issue, found that support for FGM was declining amongst both men and women. FGM “is a violation of a girl’s rights to health, well-being and self-determination,” said Unicef deputy executive director Geeta Rao Gupta, “What is clear from this report is that legislation alone is not enough.”
‘Speak out loudly’
The report, ‘Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change’, was released in Washington DC. The study, which pulled together 20 years of data from the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is still practised, found girls were less likely to be cut than they were some 30 years ago. They were three times less likely than their mothers to have been cut in Kenya and Tanzania, and rates had dropped by almost half in Benin, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria.