A new report is calling on medical professionals in England to take more of a hard-hitting role in putting an end to female genital mutilation (FGM).
Released by professional bodies representing midwives, nurses, gynecologists and obstetricians, a groundbreaking report is urging medical professionals to treat patients who have been subjected to FGM, or female circumcision, as child abuse victims.
“Even though FGM is child abuse, it has not been our priority because most people have felt that it’s a cultural thing and an exotic thing that people from different countries practice,” Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives -- which contributed to the report -- told the Thompson Reuters Foundation. “Young girls turn up in accident and emergency at age 10 with (urinary) problems and nobody does anything, nobody asks what’s going on, and no one has been prosecuted.”
Despite the fact that FGM was banned in the UK in 1985, the practice is still prevalent there.
In 2007, an estimated 66,000 women in England and in Wales had undergone FGM and over 24,000 girls under 15 were potentially at risk, according to a study released by Forward, a charity that works to improve the quality of life of African women and girls.
Part of the reason why girls in England are at risk is because women come from countries where the practice is commonplace, and then subject their daughters to circumcision, even though their babies are born in the UK, according to the new report.
The report made a number of recommendations, including encouraging medical professionals to collaborate with police and social services workers in incidents of FGM and to develop a more uniform way of documenting such cases.
These recommendations come at a time when cases of FGM are actually declining worldwide.
According to a July report released by the United Nations' Children's Fund, more women and girls than ever before are refusing to undergo FGM. However, 30 million girls still remain at risk of getting cut.
But the taboos surrounding female circumcision are gradually subsiding, as demonstrated by the latest report and the way in which the U.N. is also tackling the issue.
In November 2012, the U.N. passed a resolution condemning female genital mutilation as harmful to women and girls and encouraged member states to take measures to ban the practice. It was the first time the General Assembly's human rights committee addressed the problem.
"FGM is an indictment of us all,” said Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's U.N. representative, according to the Associated Press, “that a girl or young woman can be held down and mutilated is a violation of her human rights.”