Latest NHS figures show that 10 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were newly recorded in Lincolnshire in the year 2015/16.
Children’s charity NSPCC is calling for more action to stop FGM after it recorded calls at least once a day from people concerned that girls had already suffered or were at risk of harm.
The practise, also referred to as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
FGM ranges from pricking or cauterising to partially or totally remove genitals. Cutting is made using instruments such as a knife, pair of scissors, scalpel, glass or a razor blade.
Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However the practice is regarded as child abuse and is a criminal offence.
It is known to have been used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.
The practice is believed to affect around 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales.
FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK for 30 years and also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.
Despite this, there is yet to be a successful prosecution for the offence.
Since July 2015 anyone in Wales and England may seek an FGM Protection Order to protect a potential victim.
Ministry of Justice figures show that, between July 2015 and September 2016, there have been 97 applications made for Protection Orders across England and Wales, with 79 resulting in Orders being obtained.
No FGMPOs were requested in Lincolnshire, however there were 10 newly-recorded NHS cases in Lincolnshire in 2015/16.
Since the NSPCC’s dedicated FGM line was launched in June 2013 it has been contacted more than 1,500 times (an average of more than one a day). The charity says around a third of concerns were serious enough to be referred to police or social services.
People have also called the line with fears for babies who could be at risk of FGM.
One doctor told the NSPCC helpline: “I have suspicions in relation to a child that I think may have been flown out of the country for the FGM procedure. The child was brought into my surgery today but the parent wouldn’t allow me to perform an internal examination on the child. The parent was adamant that the child would be checked abroad instead.”
John Cameron, Head of NSPCC Helplines, said: “We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that female genital mutilation is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help.
“Some families who subject their children to female genital mutilation may do so because of cultural norms or that they believe it will help their child improve their life. It’s vital that everyone realises FGM serves no purpose, and leaves long lasting physical and emotional scars on the victims.
“For far too long female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended. This is child abuse and it is against the law. It has no place in any society.”
Anyone who is concerned that a child is at risk of or has experienced FGM can speak to an NSPCC FGM helpline advisors on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected] so that appropriate action can be taken.