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There Are Over Five Thousand Newly-Recorded Cases Of FGM In England

Over five thousand new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) have been reported in England in 12 months.

Statistics released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that there were 5,702 newly-recorded cases of FGM in England between April 2015 and March 2016. In total, 8,656 girls and women who sought medical treatment last year were found to have undergone the procedure.

This is the first time statistics relating to FGM in the UK have been made available. Healthcare professionals in England have been legally required to record cases of FGM since July 2015, but there is currently no such obligation on healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Writing on Twitter, anti-FGM campaigner Hibo Wardere, the author of Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today, called the figures "devastating" and pointed out that they represent the "tip of [the] iceberg."

The statistics show that 90% of the girls and women who had undergone FGM, and whose country of birth was known, were born in an Eastern, Northern or Western African country. 43 girls and women recorded as victims of FGM were born in the UK. In 18 newly-recorded cases, it was reported that the act of FGM was carried out in the UK.

The most frequent age range at which the act of FGM was carried out was between five and nine years old. As well as causing numbness during sexual activity, the practice can lead to long-term health complications including the spread of HIV, tetanus and Hepatitis B and C, painful menstruation and urination, and problems during pregnancy and childbirth due to vaginal walls being sewn too narrowly.

In response to today's statistics, a spokesperson for the NSPCC told Refinery 29: "It is really concerning that there are thousands of newly recorded cases of women who have suffered FGM across England, especially when many of these have endured the procedure at such a young age. Parents should be fully aware of the fact that FGM is against the law in the UK and causes serious and long lasting physical and emotional harm to the children it is inflicted upon."

The spokesperson also urged "all professionals, families and members of the public to share information about FGM and the terrible damage it can cause on young women living in our communities," adding, "Only by being open and talking about this issue can we really start to reduce the number of women who are exposed to what is a barbaric act."

People who are worried a child may be at risk can call the NSPCC's FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550. Further information is available on the NSPCC website.