Female genital mutilation a ‘huge problem’ in U.K.

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Britain’s reputation for turning a blind eye on the illegal practice of female genital mutilation may be about to change after British doctors, nurses and midwifes decided to take a stand and demand it be treated as child abuse.

Earlier this month, leading British medical groups delivered an extensive report to Parliament, recommending aggressive steps to eradicate the practice, which is still being carried out on young girls from certain African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. 

The report revealed tens of thousands of cases of FGM in Britain (as many as 66,000 by some estimates). And while the practice was outlawed in 1985 and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, the country has never seen a single prosecution.

‘’It’s a huge problem in Britain,’’ says Dr. Deborah Hodes, a London community paediatrician and chair of child protection with the Royal College of Paediatrics, outlining that more than 24,000 girls are at risk of FGM and more than 66,000 women are living with the consequences. Hodes regularly gets referrals for young girls who underwent cutting — a common term for the practice in the U.K.— or who are at high risk of being cut.

Written By: Gabrielle Fahmy
continue to source article at cbc.ca

42 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by David W:

      Doctors should be required to report it to the authorities like any other form of child abuse.

      Doctors in the UK are required to report girls and young women they think are at risk. Have a look here page 15

      4.1.2 The need to safeguard girls and young women at risk of FGM

      Under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, anyone who has information that a child is potentially or actually at risk of significant harm is required to inform social care or the police. Initially, the professional will refer the potential victim as a child in need and social services will assess the risk. This definition of harm has been extended in the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which includes where someone sees or hears of the ill treatment of another. Specifically, this relates to situations where there may not be direct disclosure of FGM being performed.

      • In reply to #4 by mmurray:

        In reply to #1 by David W:

        Doctors should be required to report it to the authorities like any other form of child abuse.

        Doctors in the UK are required to report girls and young women they think are at risk. Have a look here page 15

        4.1.2 The need to safeguard girls and young women at risk of F…

        I wonder why there have been no prosecutions? Authorities tip-toeing around religious beliefs perhaps?

        • In reply to #6 by David W:

          In reply to #4 by mmurray:

          In reply to #1 by David W:

          Doctors should be required to report it to the authorities like any other form of child abuse.

          Doctors in the UK are required to report girls and young women they think are at risk. Have a look here page 15

          4.1.2 The need to safeguard girls…

          That seems plausible. But it is a hard crime to prosecute. You have to detect it. The girl is unlikely to want to be a witness against her parents. The rest of the family and community are unlikely to want to help. It is possible some prosecutions are underway.

          I noticed after posting my earlier link that it didn’t actually say what a doctors responsibility was if they detected that FGM had occurred. It was all about when the child was at risk of it happening. In other child abuse cases of course seeing that abuse had occurred would be an indicator that it was likely to happen to again so you would be required to notify police.

          Michael

        • In reply to #6 by David W:

          In reply to #4 by mmurray:

          In reply to #1 by David W:

          Doctors should be required to report it to the authorities like any other form of child abuse.

          Doctors in the UK are required to report girls and young women they think are at risk. Have a look here page 15

          It is possible that some Doctors are complicit.

          • In reply to #21 by mmurray:
            >

            Yes indeed and dentists.

            Well, that’s surely outside the scope of dental practice!

            FWIW, at least in the U.S., dentists are doctors. “Physicians” is the distingushing term preferred.

            Steve

    • In reply to #1 by David W:

      Doctors should be required to report it to the authorities like any other form of child abuse.

      I totally agree – all healthcare practitioners should be required to report. Any physician or nurse who sees signs and symptoms of cutting – absence or scarring of the labia and vaginal introitus, absence of the clitoris, menstrual obstruction and urinary retention, genital abscesses/infections, especially in prepubertal girls – all of these should be reported and investigated. Parents who refuse medical care for their daughters with symptoms of genitourinary obstruction or infection to avoid detection of cutting should get stiff prison sentences. There should not be any religious healthcare exemptions for parents.

      Of course, that would be ideal – but the screams of religious intolerance and persecution would be deafening to the politicians.

  1. ” And while the practice was outlawed in 1985 and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, the country has never seen a single prosecution. “

    Cultural relativism?

    ” with some even questioning whether FGM is actually a British problem. “

    What?!?

    As the article states in the concluding paragraph these girls are British citizens and this is straight out of a barbarous time that needs legal ending. Now!

    • In reply to #2 by Neodarwinian:>

      Cultural relativism?

      If you assume that at least two people on average are responsible for every FGM event that has taken place in the UK, then you’re talking about adding 130,000 to the UK prison system, possibly for more than 10 years each. Adding over a million man-years to an over worked prion system, followed by dumping 130k registered sex offends back into the community, is not a trivial logistical matter. Or did you not think about that part?

      The same thing (unfortunately) protects these people as protects litter louts and copyright pirates. Enforcement to the letter or the spirit of the law is simply not possible. The current UK legal system is not capable of coping with crime of this severity and magnitude. Either crimes before a certain date are ignored, or we invent a new kind of legal punishment. Or we take no action at all.

      And that’s before the politics of the situation. A law which if enforced would very likely lead to large scale and sustained rioting in every major UK city is a BAD LAW. Because it’s not just the two per child, but every religious dumbarse who will get confused, and thing the enforcement is an attempt to exterminate islam. And you know they will not take it lying down. A law which would #### up the national economy, is a BAD LAW, because we need that to pay for the million man-hours you want to add to the prison service. Not to mention building the extra required prisons. Sometimes, however distasteful it is, politicians have to decide that NOT screwing over 60,000,000 people means that they have to screw over 24,000, and write off the other 66,000 as spilled milk.

      There is no effective ethical quick (pick two!) way to wipe out an idea. If you have any ideas as to how to go about it, I’d love to hear them. By choice I’d knock out the middle option. So you probably don’t want to hear mine.

      • In reply to #36 by ANTIcarrot:

        Give long prison sentences to a few dozen, showing that the law will be rigorously enforced in future, then declare an amnesty for all existing prior offenders if (and only if) they come forward and confess. In which case they will get a formal caution and go on a sex offenders register. For life. They will then fail any vetting and barring checks and will not be able to work with children.

        If they do not come forward as part of the amnesty, and are subsequently proven to be child abusers, they can face the consequences as demonstrated by the deterrent sentences.

        FGM is no better than paedophilia. In some respects it is worse. We do whatever it takes to stamp it out, permanently.

      • In reply to #36 by ANTIcarrot:

        every religious dumbarse who will get confused, and thing the enforcement is an attempt to exterminate islam

        The highest rates of FGM are found among girls from Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Since most British Muslims originate from countries where FGM is not prevalent, enforcement of existing laws is not going to be seen as anti-Muslim.

      • In reply to #36 by ANTIcarrot:

        Hi ANTICarrot,

        If you assume that at least two people on average are responsible for every FGM event that has taken place in the UK, then you’re talking about adding 130,000 to the UK prison system, possibly for more than 10 years each. Adding over a million man-years to an overworked prison system, followed by dumping 130k registered sex offends back into the community, is not a trivial logistical matter.

        You’d have to catch them first.

        Then the cases would have to hold up in court.

        Your point of view seems to me to be the counsel of despair; the problem is too big, run away, run away!

        A survey by Mumsnet in 2012 found that out of 1,609 women, 10% had been raped. Assuming that figure is inflated by various factors to double the true percentage of the population as a whole, and that perpetrators account for an average of 4 women each that’s over 400,000 rapists that should be locked up. Perhaps that problem is also too big to address. Should we repeal rape law?

        130,000, in a population of ~65M is only about 0.2%.

        My point is not that your figures are incorrect, for all I know they may be. My point is that looking at a mountain from the bottom and crying “It’s too big to climb, give up!” isn’t helpful.

        [Large numbers] unfortunately protect these people as [it] protects litter louts and copyright pirates

        I don’t understand how a crime that harms the environment (and therefore harms people only indirectly and which victimises no-one), and a law that many of us consider to be anti-democratic and anti-human and which we therefore regard as our duty to undermine on every possible occassion – an activity which benefits everyone except robber-publishers – can possibly be a useful comparison with crimes against the person which inflict great pain, suffering and life-long hardship.

        I do appreciate that you were talking about numbers and the effort required to police such large numbers – but that argumant is just a continuation of your theme: It’s too big.

        Enforcement to the letter or the spirit of the law is simply not possible.

        Show me a law that is. Perhaps we should just stop making and policing pesky laws – what a waste of time.

        The current UK legal system is not capable of coping with crime of this severity and magnitude.

        Yes, don’t even try – it’s hopeless, give in to cruelty, never protect the powerless, give in to the strong, tell the innocents to be happy in their lives of abject horror and misery …

        Either crimes before a certain date are ignored, or we invent a new kind of legal punishment.

        I don’t see how a statute of limitations is helpful – other than to save money in order to tell mature women that their suffering is nothing to the rest of us. How ‘nice’.

        Or we take no action at all.

        Back to the counsel of despair.

        And that’s before the politics of the situation. A law which if enforced would very likely lead to large scale and sustained rioting in every major UK city is a BAD LAW

        That is true if it actually led to such unrest. I see no evidence, not one scintilla, that it will.

        Is it beyond the wit of human-kind to educate?

        Given that we’re talking of 0.2% of the population (using your figures) and given the potential of education – not to mention the propaganda that would be spurted out by an over-excited Private Media – unrest seems to me highly likely to be confined to explaining themselves, and not persuading anyone.

        Because it’s not just the two per child, but every religious dumb-arse who will get confused, and think the enforcement is an attempt to exterminate Islam

        Education, propaganda and legal proceedings against the first cases will get people thinking. Like all laws effectiveness will be both enhanced and undermined by active prosecutions and police investigations. Enhanced because it will make people think twice – for the wrongs reasons and the right reasons. Undermined because those who consider possible prosecution for the wrong reasons will learn to hide their activities better.

        At the very least we will significantly raise the scial and economic barriers to taking part in these activities – and that means less suffering as some people will just give up.

        Experience shows that having laws tends to lessen crime, that prosecuting those we catch lessens crime more and that increasing the social costs of any action that might support a criminal reduces crime still further. Your point would be … ?

        Islam and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are not equivelant. While it is true that FGM and religiosity in general tend to be correlated that appears to have more to do with ignorance and tribal custom than any particular religion. You should apologise to moderate Muslims – we need their support to help stamp out this vile practice, just as we need the help of those from other religions.

        A law which would #### up the national economy, is a BAD LAW …

        On what evidence do you base this bland assertion?

        … because we need that to pay for the million man-hours you want to add to the prison service.

        This comment assumes that the police and prosecution services can catch all the perpetrators. It also assumes that all prosections would end in a prison sentence. Given the secrecy that surrounds much of this activity, the real figure will be far, far, lower.

        I am ready to pay the necessary taxes to see justice done – after all, that’s all we would be asked to do. Are you saying that you think justice is not worthy of a small contribution, that you’re so uncaring of your fellow human beings that you are content to selfishly hold on to a few more pounds and watch while horrendous injustice – injustice that is within your power to curb, even if not to cure – continues to be visited on innocent children?

        Sometimes, however distasteful it is, politicians have to decide that NOT screwing over 60,000,000 people means that they have to screw over 24,000, and write off the other 66,000 as spilled milk.

        That would not merely be distasteful – that would be politicians involved in a vicious, cruel and abohorent dereliction of duty.

        There is no effective ethical quick (pick two!) way to wipe out an idea.

        Yes there is: Show people how wrong it is. One of the most effective ways to do that is to prosecute those you can catch to the full extent of the law.

        If you have any ideas as to how to go about it, I’d love to hear them.

        The authorities seem to be getting a plan together – and about time. They’re not doing anything on education yet – and that ought to be the fist activity.

        … you probably don’t want to hear mine.

        No thanks.

        Peace.

  2. “What the Netherlands have done really well,” she says, “is implement that work in sexual education classes. It’s compulsory. Front-line staff working with women and children,

    I really like the sound of this approach. I think it could be used in other areas of potential conflict as well.

  3. Zero tolerance for this crime (yes it is.) People who don’t like it ,well too bad, suck it up.Can’t make your own rules.
    And as for cultural relativism, Britain should stop being so damn accomodating, when human suffering is the result.

    • In reply to #5 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

      Zero tolerance for this crime (yes it is.) People who don’t like it ,well too bad, suck it up.Can’t make your own rules.
      And as for cultural relativism, Britain should stop being so damn accomodating, when human suffering is the result.

      The problem is how do you detect it has occurred, how do the identify the perpetrators, how do you bring a case to trial that you can win and does all that actually help stop it ? It is a hidden crime that occurs in insular communities amongst families that to all outward appearances probably look loving and caring.

      It seems some prosecutions might underway.

      Michael

  4. I would expect that part of the problem would be down to the usual British problem of not wanting to upset minorities, whilst being told that they do not understand other peoples”culture”. Undoubtedly this is not working so it is time to take the initiative and protect these vulnerable girls.

    • In reply to #9 by Miserablegit: Exactly.

      I would expect that part of the problem would be down to the usual British problem of not wanting to upset minorities, whilst being told that they do not understand other peoples”culture”. Undoubtedly this is not working so it is time to take the initiative and protect these vulnerable girls.

  5. My very firm take on this, as a Briton, is that our politicians, police, social services agencies etc all bend over backwards to “respect” the sacred God of multicultural sensitivity. Or basically, don’t cause a fuss. We pass laws which we have zero intention of ever enforcing. We’ve never had an FGM prosecution despite making it illegal in 1985, and toughening up the law in 2003.

    Why for example can we not charge school nurses with reporting incidents of FGM? And then prosecute the parents.

    Our pusillanimous inactivity may at least in recent years also have something to do with the ludicrous appointment of Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, as our “Minister for Faith” with cabinet rank. A right wing politician (of sorts), she never won any election anywhere, so (being British) we gave her a peerage and sat her in the House of Lords instead. She ticks too many tokenism boxes to miss the opportunity, I guess.

    • In reply to #10 by Stevehill:

      Our pusillanimous inactivity may at least in recent years also have something to do with the ludicrous appointment of Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, as our “Minister for Faith” with cabinet rank.

      Female genital mutilation is mainly an African practice and Baroness Warsi is of Pakistani origin, so there is no bias in her cultural background towards it. Besides, as a British government minister she is bound to oppose the practice as, indeed, she does, as her public statements make clear.

      • In reply to #24 by aldous:

        In reply to #10 by Stevehill:

        Female genital mutilation is mainly an African practice and Baroness Warsi is of Pakistani origin, so there is no bias in her cultural background towards it. Besides, as a British government minister she is bound to oppose the practice as, indeed, she does, as her public statements make clear.

        You miss my point. Just by existing in her ludicrous, Ruritanian, Disneyfied non-job, she is an enabler.

        And don’t start pretending that most of the “Africans” who practice FGM are not also Muslims.

        • In reply to #32 by Stevehill:

          You miss my point. Just by existing in her ludicrous, Ruritanian, Disneyfied non-job, she is an enabler. And don’t start pretending that most of the “Africans” who practice FGM are not also Muslims.

          Yes, I know, African-Muslims. But there are many Muslim cultures and Baroness Warsi is from a Pakistani background –quite different, as well as being British born, not prone we suppose to flouting British law and, as a government minister, in support of British government policy against female genital mutilation.

          You’re right that her appointment shows government kow-towing to religion but this is not a religious issue.

  6. Horrible; I couldn’t read the article all the way through.

    What’s the source of this vicious cruelty to infants? What motivates parents to hack bits off of their children? If it’s illegal and known to be happening why hasn’t there been a single prosecution? Am I permitted to ask such questions? And if not why not? Is it emotional blackmail that renders people silent? How long has it been going on? And, how much longer will it be before the appropriate authorities fulfil their obligations and take steps to stamp it out?

    Sickening!

    Petition signed.

    • In reply to #14 by Stafford Gordon:

      Horrible; I couldn’t read the article all the way through.

      What’s the source of this vicious cruelty to infants?

      It’s a way of controlling female sexuality. Human children take an enormous investment of time which is a problem for males if they don’t know the child is theirs. This is not meant to be an justification of any kind — just my guess of how these things arose many years ago.

      What motivates parents to hack bits off of their children?

      It’s a social custom, supposed to make girls less likely to marry someone you haven’t arranged to sell them to, transition to being a real woman etc, etc. As wiki says ” It is supported by both women and men in countries that practise it, particularly by the women, who see it as a source of honour and authority, and an essential part of raising a daughter well.[“

      If it’s illegal and known to be happening why hasn’t there been a single prosecution?

      Immigrant communities are isolated. It’s hard to detect. Girls are not likely to give evidence against their parents. Other family members and the rest of the community will not talk.

      I do think more could be done with the girls being taken out of the country to have it done. Put female doctors in all the airports and check any girl going out and when they come in again.

      Michael

  7. What’s needed in Briton is not multiculturalism but interculturalism, which promotes the most humane, sophisticated and advanced elements from each community.

    That would render this kind of barbarism totally beyond the pale.

  8. Male genital mutilation is a bigger problem because, besides being immoral, unnecessary and damaging, it also gives cover to female genital mutilation. Both are derived from barbaric superstitions and as such receive automatic respect and shield from criticism.

    So, just like when any kind of superstition is given respect means that the most violent ones get a pass, so too will FGM get a pass because MGM gets it.

    • In reply to #19 by Stafford Gordon:

      In reply to mmurry # 17.

      Thanks Michael; but my questions were rhetorical.

      S G

      Oops. Sorry Stafford. As I pressed “Submit” I was wondering … !

      The zero prosecutions still stands out as suspect whatever the difficulties of prosecution doesn’t it. Let’s hope some of the pending prosecutions work out.

      Michael

    • In reply to #25 by inquisador:

      The extraordinary thing is that this is what happened when leyla Hussain asked people to sign a street petition in favour of genital mutilation of young girls.

      From her appearance, they assumed she was an African and they didn’t want to offend what they believed is the African cultural bias in favour of female genital mutilation.

  9. I can hardly imagine the UK (or any other Western nation) doing anything about this. Your David Cameron wants to turn the UK into the sharia banking center of the Western world, so you know he wants nothing done that will put Muslim panties in a twist. And, believe me, if this is pushed, you will have Muslim violence and your girly-boy elites will cave in just like they always do. I mean, 1985 and no prosecutions? Besides, any country that would let Anjem Choudary live there and not throw him in prison, has no hope of doing anything that offends Muslims. If you feel persecuted by what I’m saying, take heart, I feel the same way about he US, Canada, Australia, Canada and the rest of Europe. The atheist/secular community needs to start reviling Islam to at least the same degree it has reviled Christianity for decades and stop worrying about the political correctness issue. When they screech “racism”, we simply need to scream louder. Remember, no matter how liberal you are or how loudly Muslims whine, Islam is not a race and Muslims are not a race.

    • In reply to #28 by Free Speech:

      no matter how liberal you are or how loudly Muslims whine, Islam is not a race and Muslims are not a race.

      Perhaps not, but they are the target of racists, just as anti-Semitism targets people who, Richard Dawkins claims, are not a race.

  10. If you want another indication of how much this is being swept under the carpet, consider this: I’m in the UK, but I have read about it in a Canadian website. There hasn’t been a sniff of this on the BBC news website.

  11. All the points made so far why there hasn’t been a prosecution are all valid, but they are simply EXCUSES!

    FMG is a serious problem, no ifs ands or buts about it. Where there is a will, there is a way. There is simply not the political or popular will in the population to help the victims of this heinous crime. It all reeks of tokenism and appeasement.

    Yet on the other hand the authorities think nothing of using all the resources at their disposal and then some to go after whistleblowers and abuse their power by breaking laws protecting privacy without hesitation. For whatever reason there is a clear disconnect and a total lack of priorities within the population of GB and its leaders. To continue to claim to live in a country at the forefront of protecting human rights the current attitudes and lack of action must change. Or, if the will isn’t there to actively implement an existing law, it should be taken off the books and reflect a (sorry) reality. jcw

  12. In a world where clitoris rings, nipple rings, nose rings, scarring, and full body tattooing are all considered “fashion,” and societally acceptable, the definition of what is mutilation and what is not is blurring.

    This may have something to do with why there is not the outcry that there should be.

  13. What about a campaign teaching the physical and ethical problems of cutting in all schools from the very earliest years, on TV, and in public places? What about a concerted effort to encourage girls to reach out to school counselors, police, physicians, and nurses outside their community if they feel their family is making arrangements to have them cut? It should be public, in schools and all public places, on TV, all the time – like teaching kids about stranger danger, sexual abuse, etc. Even very young girls may speak up and resist if they have the support and encouragement. I don’t know what kind of public education has been done in the UK, but this makes sense to me.

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