English Hospitals See Dramatic Rise In Female Genital Mutilation Cases

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A single English hospital has treated 1,500 victims of female genital mutilation in just five years, and nearly 500 cases of the brutal procedure are being discovered by hospitals in the country each month.

A new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre found that English hospitals discovered 455 cases of female genital mutilation, or FGM, in October, the first month that such data was collected.

In November, 466 victims were treated, according to the Independent.

Outlawed in the United Kingdom since 1984, FGM is defined as any procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

The procedure is most prevalent in West Africa, the Horn of Africa and Egypt, though it is practiced in other parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital reported 1,500 cases of FGM in a five year period, according to the Birmingham Mail. In 2013, 349 cases were reported, 288 cases were reported in 2012, 316 in 2011 and 317 in 2010, the Daily Mail reported.

Despite FGM being outlawed, nobody has ever been convicted in the U.K. of conducting the procedure. Only one man, Dhanuson Dharmasena, has been charged with a crime related to FGM. He is currently on trial, accused of performing FGM at a hospital in north London.

Most of the victims of the procedure are believed to have undergone the procedure — which can cause infertility and psychological damage — before migrating to England.

According to numerous studies, the prevalence of FGM has increased dramatically in the U.K.

One study from the City University, London found “An estimated 103,000 women aged 15-49 with FGM born in countries in which it is practised were living in England and Wales in 2011, compared with the estimated 66,000 in 2001.”

Birmingham police have also seen a drastic increase in the number of reports of FGM.

“There were no reports of this happening in 2001, 2002 or 2003. In 2012 we had 25 reports and between January and November of 2014 there were 118 reports to us,” Detective Superintendent Tim Bacon told the Birmingham Mail.

Data on the prevalence of FGM in the United States has not been collected in years, though it is believed to have spiked along with increases in migration from countries where the procedure is common. According to an NBC News report last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 150,000 and 200,000 girls are at risk of being forced to undergo cutting.

Though there are no recent studies on FGM in the United States, health professionals believe that more girls and women currently in the U.S. have undergone the procedure. The NBC News report focuses on communities with large numbers of Somali migrants. At one refugee clinic in Phoenix, 98 percent of Somali women who have sought treatment there have undergone some form of FGM, which was outlawed in the U.S. in 1997.

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