The UK's Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling for the government to implement a new action plan to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country.
This follows the publication of new statistics showing how many girls and women in Britain have been affected by the practice, which often involves the removal of all or part of the clitoris and labia for cultural reasons.
According to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 1,242 new cases of FGM were identified in the UK between January and March this year alone, with 29 (two per cent) of these affecting females aged 18 and under, of whom 11 were born in Britain.
During the summer months, girls with certain heritage are often flown out of the country to undergo FGM, with the new data showing that females with Somalian backgrounds accounted for over one-third of all cases recorded in the first three months of 2016.
Nigeria, another country where FGM is prevalent, announced this week that the practice is now banned across the nation, but UK medical professionals are concerned that girls with family from Sudan and Eritrea are still at high risk of being subjected to FGM.
In addition, it was found that more than half (52 per cent) of new FGM cases were reported within the London NHS Commissioning Region.
As a result, the RCM is calling for greater action to be taken to protect young women from the practice to prevent them from needing medical treatment in the first place.
Progress is being made in some parts of the world, such as Nigeria, to change people's thinking about FGM being necessary and to educate them about the harm it can cause, but more work is needed before the practice is eradicated on a much wider scale.
Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the RCM, commented: "These figures show that we need renewed and focused efforts to tackle FGM.
"This has to be backed by a national action plan so that all sectors and all professionals see FGM as their business and protecting girls from such abuses becomes a normal part of their practice."
Written by James Puckle
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