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New report reveals FGM prevalence

22 July, 2015

New report reveals FGM prevalence

In England and Wales no local authority area is likely to be free from FGM entirely, according to a new report.

The report from City University London and Equality Now provides detailed estimates of FGM prevalence for each local authority area in England and Wales to enable professionals to plan services to support affected women and – where necessary – to safeguard their daughters.

The figures show that the highest prevalence rates in the population were in London boroughs, with Southwark having the highest national prevalence with an estimated 4.7% of women affected by FGM, and a rate of 3.9% in Brent compared to 0.5% in England and Wales as a whole.

Southwark also has the highest percentage of girls born to mothers who had undergone FGM, at 10.4%.

Outside London, the highest estimates were for Manchester, Slough, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham, with rates ranging from 12% to 1.6%.

Other authorities, including Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Coventry, Sheffield, Reading, Thurrock, Northampton and Oxford had rates of over 0.7%.

The report builds on interim findings published by City University London and Equality Now in July 2014, which showed that an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM and born in countries where it is practised were permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011. The figures are estimates and should be used as a guide.

The new research combined information from surveys in 29 countries where FGM is more commonly practised (and data are available) with information from the 2011 census about women who had migrated from those countries.

The report also combined the survey data with birth data from the Office for National Statistics, enabling researchers to estimate the numbers of mothers affected by FGM giving birth each year from 2005 to 2013 and, subsequently, the number of girls born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM.

RCM professional policy advisor Janet Fyle said: ‘This report shows that every corner in the UK is touched by FGM. FGM is invariably identified in women born in countries where FGM is practised or prevalent.

‘This report is an indication that much more needs to be done to support survivors of FGM in terms of providing long-term clinical care and support. In particular psychological support is needed regardless of the numbers of affected girls and women in an area. We must also continue to be vigilant in identifying and protecting girls at risk.

‘While we acknowledge the progress being made towards ending FGM in the UK, we must lead by example. This means using the might of the legal framework to eradicate FGM in the UK and in countries where it continues to impact on the health and wellbeing of girls and women.

‘If we are really to end FGM, we need the collaborative efforts of the health services, police and education, along with local communities, local authorities and survivors in every area in the UK to adopt a zero tolerance approach, until FGM no longer blights the lives of women and girls.’

In conjunction with the report’s release, Trust for London, Equality Now, Rosa - The UK fund for women and girls, and the RCM are releasing new recommendations for authorities and statutory agencies working to tackle the practice on a local level.

Janet added: ‘This guidance is an opportunity for local authorities to act within the context of protecting girls and women at risk of FGM, through raising awareness of the legal framework on FGM, and providing appropriate evidence-based services for those already affected by FGM. But, most important is to do this in collaboration with key partners locally; including health, social care, law enforcement and community support.

‘As the report shows, some local authorities may not have huge numbers of people who have undergone FGM. Nevertheless, they must ensure that systems and services are in place to support those at risk and those already affected by FGM.’

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