- Police have failed to bring forward a single conviction
- Only two doctors have ever been struck off by the General Medical Council
- Victims often suffer in silence and sometimes battle to stand or walk
- One doctor offered to perform the procedure on a 10-year-old girl for £750
As many as 100,000 women in Britain have undergone female genital mutilations with medics in the UK offering to carry out the illegal procedure on girls as young as 10, it has been reported.
Investigators from The Sunday Times said they secretly filmed a doctor, dentist and alternative medicine practitioner who were allegedly willing to perform circumcisions or arrange for the operation to be carried out.
The doctor and dentist deny any wrongdoing.
The practice, which involves the surgical removal of external genitalia and in some cases the stitching of the vaginal opening, is illegal in Britain and carries up to a 14 year prison sentence.
It is also against the law to arrange FGM.
Known as ‘cutting’, the procedure is traditionally carried out for cultural reasons and in Africa and with large numbers of immigration from countries like Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia it is becoming more common in the UK.
It is believed to be proof of a girl’s ‘purity’ for when she marries, but victims often suffer in silence and are rarely given anaesthetic.
They frequently suffer long-term damage and pain and often struggle to stand or walk properly.
Research suggests that every year up to 6,000 girls in London are at risk of the potentially fatal procedure, and more than 22,000 in the UK as a whole.
The Metropolitan Police said since 2008, it had received 166 reports of people who fear they are at risk of FGM but it has failed to bring forward a single perpetrator.
It is the same for all 43 forces across England and Wales with no convictions for the offence ever taking place.
Only two doctors have ever been struck off by The General Medical Council since 1980.
The Sunday Times uncovered a respected dentist who was prepared to circumcise two girls, aged 10 and 13 and a GP who referred an undercover reporter to the dentist.
They also spoke to a supplier who deals in alternative medicine who offered to circumcise a 10 year-old girl for £750.
A midwife in Birmingham also said she had seen the number of mutilations in the area treble since 2002.
Alison Byrne, a specialist midwife at the Birmingham’s Heartlands hospital who has helped pioneer treatment for women suffering from the condition said she has had patients aged between 16 and 40.
She said she had some women who had been left with an opening the size of a matchstick through which to pass urine and menstrual blood.
Ms Byrne added that as a result many of the women developed severe infections and can continuously bleed for days on end.
She has said there is a huge lack of training and knowledge among medical staff which is causing a serious problem.
Doctors at the hospital now offer a procedure called deinfibulation which involves the removal of scar tissue formed by the cutting of the clitoris.
It is offering hope to dozens of women affected by the condition.
It is also estimated that one in 20 women in parts of London are victims of the practice.[
Minister for equalities Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Female genital mutilation is an abhorrent crime and we are very clear that hose found to practice it should feel the full force of the law.’
According to Forward, a charity which campaigners against FGM, an estimated 100,000 women in the UK have undergone mutilation.
Supermodel turned United Nations ambassador Waris Dirie, who was mutilated aged 5 in her home country of Somalia, is a vociferous opponent of the practice.
Calling for a crackdown on FGM, she said: ‘If a white girl is abused, the police come break down the door. If a black girl is mutilated, nobody takes care of her. This is what I call racism.’
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION – THE DIFFERENT TYPES
Majority of FGMs occur in Africa and Middle Eastern countries where it is seen as vital in preserving chastity.
In Somalia, Sudan and parts of Egypt more than 90 per cent of women are forced to go through with the procedure.
The first type involves the removal of the clitoris. The second type involves the removal of the clitoris and part of the labia – the outer part of the vagina.
This is the most common and account for about 80 per cent of FGMs.
The third type involves the removal of all external genitalia and stitching of the vaginal opening. Scar tissue eventually develops and only a small hole is left open.
The final type is the most severe and often leaves the women with infections and serious emotional scars.
It involves the cutting and sewing of the vagina and at times the introduction of a foreign substance into the vagina.