Almost 4,000 women and girls treated for effects of female genital mutilation in London hospitals since 2009
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 19 March 2014
Thousands of women and girls have been treated in London hospitals for the effects of female genital mutilation, suggesting that many more have received similar treatment nationwide.
Nearly 4,000 women and girls, some of them born in the UK, were treated for FGM in hospitals across the capital since 2009, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Campaigners said the London figures, obtained by BBC News, suggested there were thousands of women across Britain suffering the after-effects of FGM while many girls also live under threat of mutilation.
Despite being classed as torture by the United Nations and a crime in Britain since 1985, there have been no prosecutions against those responsible for the brutal practice which is generally inflicted when victims are babies or young girls.
Nearly half of the 3,939 women treated at the 31 hospitals which responded to the FOI request attended two south London NHS trusts - Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, which treated 1,146 and 795 women respectively.
Eight of those treated at St George’s were born in the UK. FGM is most common among some African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities.
Ealing Hospital NHS Trust in west London treated 633 patients and the Whittington Health NHS Trust in north London cared for 493 patients.
The majority of women who attend hospital will have undergone the procedure a number of years earlier and have become known to medics during antenatal care or because of complications, such as recurrent urinary infections, associated with FGM.
Campaigners said the figures highlighted the need for a comprehensive system to report FGM. It is estimated that at least 66,000 girls and women in the UK are victims of FGM.
Rukayah Sarumi, advocacy and campaigns manager for the charity FORWARD, said: “Unfortunately these figures are not surprising and there are some indications that they may be higher because of cases going unrecognised or unrecorded. They underline the reason why we need a strategic and cohesive response to FGM. We need a national action plan, part of which must ensure that medical staff are fully trained to recognise the mutilation.”
From next month all NHS hospitals will have a system in place to record FGM and by September all major hospitals will be required to report their data to the Department of Health on a monthly basis. New cases of FGM on British girls are thought to be carried out either in the UK by backstreet practitioners or by taking the child out of the country.
London mayor Boris Johnson said he was backing an initiative to improve the way agencies respond to FGM cases. Experts warned last year there were “gaps” in how the health and social care systems offered support to victims.
Mr Johnson told BBC London: “This is a crime basically outlawed in the early-mid 1980s and yet, unlike in France, we have not had one single successful prosecution for what is unquestionably a completely barbaric crime.
“It’s time to stop being so nervous, so gingerly and hesitant. This is something that is absolutely intolerable in a place like London.”
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Holborn fire: Chaos as 2,000 people evacuated to escape toxic smoke filling central London
University of Cambridge: Remains of 1,300 scholars are found under building
April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
April Fools' Day 2015 live: The best pranks and fake stories from around the world
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...