The British government will soon be announcing plans to deal with the problem of female genital mutilation, likely requiring doctors to report any instances of FGM that come their way.
Even though the practice has been illegal for nearly 30 years, it’s still happening and medical professionals know it. Even worse, no one has ever been prosecuted for the crime, but that may be changing soon now that an FGM case is finally going to trial for the first time:
… the case of an unidentified adult woman who was mutilated twice will be the first ever female genital mutilation trial to be heard in a UK court.
According to the latest research, more than 65,000 girls in the UK are at risk of female genital mutilation.
However there were only 93 reported cases in the UK last year — 69 to the Metropolitan Police and 24 to West Midlands Police.
This is despite an estimated 70 girls, some as young as seven, seeking treatment every month.
What many of the reports about the issue aren’t mentioning is the religious motivation for FGM in the first place. One editorial for The Guardian even says it’s “not a religious ritual”, which seems like a politically correct way to avoid saying the obvious: Even if FGM isn’t an official religious “rule,” there’s no doubt that religion plays a significant role in why certain cultures perpetuate the mutilation against women. And the consequences for the victims couldn’t be more severe:
The procedure is an assault. Its victims describe agonising pain and tell terrible tales of long-running infection and even the deaths of sisters or friends. It often brings with it a lifetime of psychological and physical damage. It can leave its victims unable to have children. Nearly 30 years ago in the UK, campaigners thought a corner had been turned when parliament outlawed FGM. Yet in all the years since, there has been not a single prosecution, let alone a conviction, and — in a field dominated by guesswork and extrapolation –– there is no evidence that criminalisation has made an impact at all. Yet more than 60,000 women and girls have been mutilated, some as children taken abroad for the brutally named cutting season, others almost certainly in private homes in British towns and cities.
It’s long overdue for the government to take serious action on this; now let’s hope professionals who encounter these victims have the courage to report the abuse on their behalf.
(Image via Shutterstock — Thanks to Matt for the link)