Monday, June 24, 2013

Female genital mutilation: how prevalent is it?

The NSPCC is launching a helpline today to protect girls in Britain from female genital mutilation. How many girls in Britain have had this dangerous procedure, how many are at risk and how does the UK compare internationally?

young women in rural Kenya refuse genital mutilation 

Young women in rural Kenya where female genital mutilation is often practiced. How does the fate of their British counterparts compare? Photograph: Guardian
Despite the fact that the World Health Organization recognise it as an international problem affecting millions, data on female genital mutilation (FGM) is scarce. 

However the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked with City University and Forward, an NGO for women in the African Diaspora to fill the knowledge gap with more accurate statistics. They reveal the impact and scale of an issue so serious that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has now launched the first national helpline to listen to those affected.

What is FGM?

The United Nations considers female genital mutilation a human rights violation because of the physical and psychological impact this unnecessary procedure has on women. 

Though the practice can vary, "procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons" are defined as FGM according to the World Health Organization.

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