By Ian Bell
Every year in London, Cardiff, Manchester, Bristol, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Crawley, Reading, Slough, Milton Keynes, and other areas with large populations of communities of first-generation immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, an estimated 20,000 schoolgirls under the age of 15 will attend "parties”.
Nothing out of the ordinary you may think.
At first the girls are all excited because it's a party, until they realise what is going to happen, and then they get frightened.
They cut them all together, as a group, because it is cheaper and quicker that way. It's done by the elder women, or the Imam, whoever is expert at cutting.
Young girls will be "cut" or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to "cutting parties" for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.
Although unable to give consent, many girls are compliant when they have the procedure carried out, believing they will be outcasts if they are not cut. Few have any idea of the lifetime of hurt it can involve or the medical implications. Other girls have died, of shock or blood loss; some have picked up infections from dirty tools.
It is thought that in the UK there are one or two doctors who can be bribed by the very rich to carry out FGM using anaesthetic and sterilised instruments.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is considered by some Muslims to be an essential part of raising a girl properly — girls are regarded as having been "cleansed" by the removal of "male" body parts. They believe it ensures pre-marital virginity and inhibits extra-marital sex, because it reduces women's libido.
Women fear the pain of re-opening the vagina, and are afraid of being discovered if it is opened illicitly. Islamic scholars have said that, while male circumcision is a Sunnah, or religious obligation, female genital modification is not required but Muslims originating in certain countries persist in the barbaric practise.
FGM is typically carried out on girls from a few days old to puberty. It may take place in a hospital, but is usually performed, without anaesthesia, by a
traditional circumciser using a knife, razor, or scissors. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is practiced widely within immigrant communities in Britain.
The UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes it an offence to carry out FGM or to aid, abet or procure the service of another person. The Female
Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it against the law for FGM to be performed anywhere in the world on UK permanent residents of any age and carries a
maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. To date, no prosecutions have been made under UK legislation.
Commander Simon Foy, Scotland Yard's specialist in child abuse cases, has said: "I am not necessarily sure that the availability of a stronger sense of prosecution will change it for the better."
This attitude and lack of action means immigrants may feel that they are relatively free to carry out this child abuse. And as a consequence of the UK Police turning a blind eye, the true extent in the UK is underestimated due to the 'hidden' nature of the crime.
The girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to 'heal' before they return to school.
In France, mothers and babies attend specialist clinics up until the age of six. The genitalia of baby girls are routinely examined for signs of mutilation.
After the age of six, responsibility is handed over to school medical teams. They continue to inspect girls, especially those coming from those high-risk ethnic groups.
Their interest is in protecting the child. If they find a girl has been mutilated, they offer her psychological support and, if she wants it, reconstructive surgery.
Psychological and mental health problems
Case histories and personal accounts taken from women indicate that FGM is an extremely traumatic experience for girls and women, which stays with them for
the rest of their lives.
About 20,000 children in England and Wales, and about the same number in France, are deemed "at risk" every year from these "cutting parties".
The laws which made FGM illegal were introduced in France and England at about the same time, in the mid-1980s. But whereas some 100 parents and practitioners of FGM have been convicted in France, there has never been a single prosecution in the UK. 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM.
What you can do
If you are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, you must share this information with social care or the police, and demand that they do something about this barbaric child abuse. It is then their responsibility to investigate and protect any girls or women involved.
Please also let us know about your report so that we can monitor what action (if any) is taken. We have seen the way the police handled the grooming issue till recently.
We will also be watching to see what steps they take to root out this unwanted cultural import that offends human dignity!
And that's the Law, Commander Foy !
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