The first official figures on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) reveal there were 5,702 cases reported in England last year.
Published on Thursday by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), data collected shows there have been more than 100 new cases every week — the equivalent of 16 a day – from the period of April 2015 to March 2016.
More than half of the females were from London, the most common age bracket being five to nine-year-olds.
Eighteen acts of FGM were carried out in the UK – including 11 women and girls who were also reported to have been born in the UK, where it has been illegal since 1985.
As noted by the NHS, 'FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done. It's also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.'
Public Health and Innovation Minister Nicola Blackwood told the BBC: 'Too often, FGM is a hidden crime, so to help us do this, we must know the scale of the problem which is why we are collecting data on FGM across the NHS. This means we can protect those at risk, provide support to survivors and ultimately end this crime once and for all.'
The HSCIC also reported that:
- Out of the total number of recorded cases, 43 women and girls were born in the UK.
- Self-report was the most frequent method of FGM identification, accounting for 73 per cent of cases where the FGM identification method was known.
- 90 per cent of women and girls with a known country of birth were born in an Eastern, Northern or Western African country, and 6 per cent were born in Asia.
- Somalia in Eastern Africa accounts for more than one third of all newly recorded women and girls with a known country of birth (37 per cent). Other countries with a large volume of cases include Eritrea in Eastern Africa, the Sudan in Northern Africa and Nigeria and the Gambia in Western Africa.
The government introduced mandatory reporting of FGM in July 2015.