British girls 'most at risk' from female genital mutilation
Ministers pledge £35m to eradicate FGM as Europe-wide figures show 30,000 girls in Britain are at risk
MORE young girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain than any other country in Europe, according to new figures reported in the Evening Standard.
There are 30,000 girls in the UK currently in danger of the practice, in which a girl will have part or all of her external genitalia removed without anaesthesia. In some cases the clitoris, external labia and internal labia are all cut off with a knife, razor or scissors, while the vagina is stitched up, leading to medical problems such as infertility in later life.
Figures from the European Institute for Gender Equality study show 6,500 of the girls live in London, with the majority aged between four and 15. Girls are mostly taken abroad, usually to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, to undergo the practice. Police at airports are under orders to look out for likely victims.
The figures were revealed on the same day that the government announced it would invest £35 million over the next five years as part of plans to eradicate FGM worldwide. Campaigners heralded the "massive" spend and International Development minister Lynne Featherstone, who is heading up the initiative, told Channel 4 News she wanted to make FGM as outdated as "Chinese foot binding" within a decade.
Activist Nimco Ali, who co-founded grassroots anti-FGM organisation Daughters of Eve, told Channel 4 news it was "a great thing that the subject is on the table". But Ali warned that the practice may not be eradicated in a generation - "it's not like malaria, that's not how it works".
Her fellow Daughters of Eve campaigner Leyla Hussein told the New Statesman that she was concerned the current momentum behind the issue could soon get "lost" due to cutbacks. "I'm so scared that with all of the cuts happening at the moment, that organisations working with women and children on this will close down. I feel so worried that in the next five to ten years, FGM will get lost in the air again." ·