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50 cases of female genital mutilation recorded in Coventry in a year

50 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were recorded in Coventry between April 2018 and March 2019, recently released figures from the NHS have shown.

TW: female genital mutilation (FGM)

Although the practice has been illegal since 1985, these 2018/19 figures convey that a new case has been identified almost weekly.

FGM – a procedure in which the female genitals are purposely altered – is currently classed as child abuse. No health benefits have been medically recognised, and consequences in some cases may even be deadly.

In 2003, laws were also strengthened to prevent potential victims traveling from the UK and undergoing the procedure abroad. Currently, a conviction of FGM can carry up to 14 years in prison.

The data from 2018/2019 shows that, in total, 60 women and girls across Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been identified by healthcare professionals as having undergone FGM.

Although the victims’ ages have not been recorded in over half of the incidents, details provided have shown that there are at least five cases in which girls under the age of one underwent the procedures.

It has also been estimated that girls were aged between one and four in a further five cases. Approximately five cases have included women over the age of 18. However, evidence shows FGM is more likely to happen before puberty begins.

Nationally, there were 6,415 individual women and girls who had an attendance where FGM was identified and 4,120 newly recorded cases.

Regional figures have presented that Birmingham and Solihull CCG had the highest number of new FGM victims identified in the same year, with 305.

A spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stated to Coventry Telegraph: “We know from calls to our dedicated FGM Helpline that girls around the country are at risk of this dangerous practice.

“Let us be clear, FGM is child abuse. It has no health benefits whatsoever and can have terrible and lasting physical, psychological, and emotional consequences.

“Those who subject girls to FGM may do so because of pressures from their community, cultural norms, or believe it will improve the chances of marriage.

“Hard as it may be, it is vital that those who know a child is at risk break the silence and speak up so we can end this abuse once and for all.”

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