Daily Mail (H/T David D) The public would be ‘shocked’ to know how many young girls are subjected to female genital mutilation in the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said yesterday. Speaking in the Commons, she said the Government was doing everything it could to warn young women about the dangers of the practice. (Warning ‘young women’ may be too late, it’s the young girls, VERY young girls)
The practice occurs in 28 African and Middle-Eastern (Muslim) countries, and is most common among Britain’s 600,000 ethnic African Muslims.
Also known as female circumcision or simply as ‘cutting’, female genital mutilation involves removing all or part of the clitoris, the surrounding labia (the outer part of the vagina) and sometimes the sewing up of the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood.
The barbaric tradition has no medical benefits, and is carried out for cultural reasons, often because it demonstrates a girl’s virginity on her wedding night. (Not to mention, it eliminates the ability of a woman to enjoy sexual intercourse)
In cultures where mutilation is common, ‘uncut’ girls are considered more likely to be promiscuous, unhygienic, and prone to diseases such as HIV/Aids. Families often club together to fly professional ‘cutters’ to the UK from Africa, after which they perform mutilations on pre-pubescent girls for as little as £40, often without anaesthetic, using blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels.
In other cases, girls are flown abroad to their family’s native country to help minimise the risk of detection. The practice is illegal under the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act, and carries a jail term of up to 14 years. Despite this, no-one has yet been successfully prosecuted.
In the short-term FGM may cause severe pain, potentially life-threatening bleeding and infection. In the longer-term, it can lead to severe complications in childbirth, substantial pain during intercourse and lasting psychological trauma.
Although the secrecy surrounding female genital mutilation (FGM) means it is hard to determine the scale of the problem, there are thought to be around 66,000 affected women and girls living in England and Wales.
‘We need to redouble our efforts to make sure we educate young girls about the prospects of being taken abroad or having this done to them, but also ensure that we educate others not to do this terrible act.’ (How about educating the mothers and fathers?)
Her comments followed a question from Conservative MP Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye), who noted that yesterday was the United Nations’ International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation, and called the practice a ‘violent and dreadful crime’. An All-Party Parliamentary Group on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was launched in December 2011 to raise awareness and eliminate FGM in the UK. More than 50 MPs and Peers of all parties are now involved.
Julie Christie-Webb, head of UK programmes at the anti-mutilation charity FORWARD, described this as ‘a small step towards improvement’. She said there are presently around 24,000 girls in Britain aged under 15 who are thought to be at high risk of genital mutilation.