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UK treats 1,700 female genital mutilation victims since April

UK treats 1,700 female genital mutilation victims since April
More than 1,700 women and girls subject to female genital mutilation (FGM) have been treated by UK health services since April, when hospitals in England were told to begin recording instances of the illegal practice.

In the last six months, 1,746 FGM cases were identified in English hospitals, according to figures released on Thursday by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

In September alone, there were 467 new cases.

“Having accurate data about this crime is an important step in helping prevent its occurrence in the future,” said HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning.

“The information will support the Department of Health in their FGM prevention program, and we hope to expand the dataset over time so that it provides a more complete picture across a wider variety of care settings.”

In July this year, Home Secretary Theresa May said more than 100,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM, and 60,000 girls are at risk.

READ MORE:Female genital mutilation 'cutters’ targeted by UK Border Control

That same month, the government launched a £1.4 million program to tackle FGM, including plans to prosecute parents who allowed their daughters to be cut.

FGM is a practice in which some or all of the female genital tissue is removed, in some cases without anesthesia.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told the Guardian the figures were “a major milestone on the road to ending FGM in one generation" in the UK. “This data will help us care for women who have had FGM, and prevent more girls from having to suffer this traumatic experience,” she added.

In February, a Guardian-backed petition on Change.org, launched by 17-year-old schoolgirl Fahma Mohamed, called for more information about FGM to be taught at schools.

More than 230,000 people signed the petition, which also won the backing of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.