By HELEN COLLIS
Medical staff working in England’s National Health Service recorded close to 5,500 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2016, but no one has been successfully prosecuted since the practice was banned over 30 years ago.
FGM is a procedure where the genitals of young girls are deliberately cut, injured or changed for cultural, religious and social reasons. It has been illegal in the U.K. since 1985 and is classified as child abuse.
In a report out Tuesday, NHS Digital said it found 1,268 newly recorded cases from October to December last year, compared with 1,240 in the previous quarter.
There were over 16,000 attendances at NHS hospitals and GP practices in 2016 relating to FGM.
Among the cases, 96 percent of women were aged 17 or younger when FGM was carried out, but almost all (98 percent) were 18 or over when their FGM case was recorded.
Many families often take their daughters abroad to be cut. In 2003, the government expanded the law to make it a criminal offense for U.K. nationals or permanent residents to take their child abroad for FGM.
Since October 2015, it has been mandatory for health care professionals to alert authorities to the illegal practice.
“The figures are astonishing. While clear progress is being made at identifying FGM in a health setting, far more must be done in schools to raise awareness of the practice and help teachers flag children at risk,” said Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Secretary Lorely Burt.
She called on the government to “redouble efforts” to tackle this crime.
This article was published on Politico's website on March 7, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.