Tag Archive | "Nigeria"

Female genital mutilation (FGM)


Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It has no health benefits for girls and women and is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM. It is mostly carried out on young girls at some time between infancy and age 15 years. In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK. It also makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM, whether or not it is lawful in that country, and to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad. It provides for a penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Five years ago I posted a blog on the subject. The first paragraph read: “Schools are out, and the long summer break is the time when many girls – the estimate is 500 to 2000 – will fly, unsuspecting, to Africa, the Middle East and parts of the Far East, ostensibly for a holiday, but in fact to be circumcised.” Schools are out again.

More than 20,000 girls a year are thought to be at risk of FGM in the UK. Medical groups, trade unions and human rights organisations estimate that there are 66,000 victims of the practice in England and Wales.

Last week the Health and Social Care Information Centre published figures for the twelve months 2015/2016. There were 5,702 newly recorded cases of FGM reported, and 8,656 total attendances where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken. More than half of all cases relate to women and girls from London NHS Commissioning Region – 52 per cent of newly recorded cases and 58 per cent of total attendances.

106 girls under 18 at the time of their first attendance were reported, comprising 2 per cent of all newly recorded cases. 87 per cent of women with a known pregnancy status were pregnant at the point of attendance. 90 per cent of women and girls with a known country of birth were born in an Eastern, Northern or Western African country, and 6 per cent were born in Asia.

Somalia in Eastern Africa accounts for more than one third of all newly recorded women and girls with a known country of birth (37 per cent). Other countries with a large volume of cases include Eritrea in Eastern Africa, the Sudan in Northern Africa and Nigeria and the Gambia in Western Africa. 43 newly recorded cases of FGM involved women and girls reported to have been born in the United Kingdom.

The most frequent age range at which the FGM was carried out was between 5 and 9 years old, involving 43 per cent of cases where the age was known. In 18 newly recorded cases, the FGM was reported to have been undertaken in the United Kingdom, including 11 women and girls who were also reported to have been born in the UK.

The Royal College of Nursing said more had to be done to end the practice, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Carmel Bagness, the RCN’s professional lead for midwifery and women’s health, said: “What these statistics show is that there is still a lot of work to do to eradicate this abuse. A lot has been achieved in the past few years, but these efforts must continue for as long as there are still women and girls subjected to this criminal abuse.”

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