Youngest female genital mutilation victim was 'aged just seven'

Data relating to cases revealed as NSPCC launches helpline

A girl of seven was the youngest victim to be treated for the after-effects of female genital mutilation, according to new data published today.

The details of the case were uncovered by the NSPCC along with evidence of some 1,700 women and girls who were treated by specialist FGM clinics.

The organisation is today launching a new helpline, with support from the Metropolitan Police and the Royal College of Midwives, to combat what they said is an abusive practice being carried out on young girls and even babies.

The charity says that more than 70 women and girls in the UK are seeking treatment every month for problems linked to FGM, and that 1,700 victims referred to specialist clinics in the last two years were likely to be a fraction of the total affected by the practice.

A new UK-wide helpline is aimed at protecting girls who are at risk of the ritual cutting, practised by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities.

Lisa Harker of NSPCC said today that the victims of the crime were "hidden behind a wall of silence".

"Like other forms of abuse if female genital mutilation is not exposed it will continue to thrive and more children will suffer", she added.

"Children who are at risk or victims of female genital mutilation often don't even know it is abusive and harmful because it is done at the request of their family.

"They are told they are unclean and immoral if they are not 'cut' and that it is in their best interest.

"There is also a huge pressure within these communities to keep quiet about female genital mutilation, with some people even being threatened with violence if they speak out.

"This is why we believe a dedicated helpline with specially trained child protection advisers is needed to help overcome the difficulties in protecting children from such a complex and secretive form of abuse."

The procedure, which is often carried out without anaesthetic, involves the total or partial removal of the external female genital organs.

The free 24-hour helpline on 0800 028 3550 and dedicated email address fgmhelpnspcc.org.uk is aimed at anyone concerned that a child's welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation and wanting advice, information or support, the charity said.

This includes the children themselves, parents, other relatives but also professionals working with at-risk families.

Though callers' details can remain anonymous, any information that could protect a child from abuse will be passed to the police or social services.

Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Niven, of Scotland Yard's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to supporting survivors of FGM and bringing to justice those responsible for committing this horrific crime.

"This practice cannot be disguised as being part of any culture, it is child abuse and offenders will be relentlessly pursued."

Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, added: "We welcome the introduction of a service that provides confidential and independent advice to vulnerable young girls at risk of FGM.

"FGM is child abuse and we want midwives and other health workers, who are on the frontline of safeguarding and protecting girls and young women, to seek information and advice if they are concerned about a young girl or child."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before