The net is closing in on parents who fail to prevent their daughter from undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) with a raft of new laws and support to be unveiled today.
Prime Minister David Cameron will announce new prosecution plans aimed at parents whose inaction leads to the abuse, as well as a £1.4million FGM Prevention Programme for survivors and those at risk.
The new measures, which also target forced marriage, will be introduced at the Girl Summit, co-hosted by Unicef.
“All girls have the right to live free from violence and coercion, without being forced into marriage or the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation,” Mr Cameron said.
“Abhorrent practices like these, no matter how deeply rooted in societies, violate the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK.
“I want to build a better future for all our girls and I am hosting the Girl Summit today so that we say with one voice - let's end these practices once and for all.”
Under the plans, a dedicated “FGM service” will encompass social workers “proactively” identifying FGM cases, lifelong anonymity will be given to victims, and new police guidance will address how officers handle and investigate the issue.
Unicef estimates that at least 125million girls and women have experience FGM in 29 countries within the Africa and Middle East, where it is most prevalent.
It also says that as many as 30million girls under the age of 15 are still at risk of being subjected to FGM, despite the practice becoming less widespread.
FGM, which is the partial or full removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons, can cause infections, infertility and in the most extreme cases, death.
It is thought that roughly 27.2million girls and women in Egypt and 23.8million in Ethiopia have been subjected to the practice.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said compulsory training will also be given to teachers and doctors to help public sector workers identify actual or potential victims of FGM.
It is thought that 137,000 women currently residing in England and Wales are estimated to have been subjected to FGM, after emigrating from their home countries.
Current legislation says it is illegal to either perform FGM on a girl or woman in the UK, assist her in mutilating her own genitalia, or else assist a Briton or non-Briton abroad to have the procedure done overseas.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Today’s summit aims to inspire and secure a better future for thousands of women and girls who are at risk of being seriously harmed by those closest to them – either by having their sexual, physical and mental health damaged by FGM or having their education, freedom and ambition curtailed when they are coerced into an unwanted marriage."
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The Girl Summit will be attended by over 500 delegates from 50 countries, Downing Street said, including United Nations agencies, charities, faith leaders and survivors.
Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake said: “The numbers tell us we must accelerate our efforts.
“While these are problems of a global scale, the solutions must be local, driven by communities, families and girls themselves to change mindsets and break the cycles that perpetuate FGM/C and child marriage.
“We can't let the staggering numbers numb us - they must compel us to act.”