Every year dozens of girls in Coventry are thought to suffer from female mutilation – but now the city’s taking a stand against the criminal practice. Coventry Health and Wellbeing Board has heard that an action plan is being drawn up. But the scale of the problem is unknown.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) female genital mutilation (FGM) “includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.
Although FGM is illegal in the UK, no one has yet been prosecuted and it has been estimated that 66, 000 women in the UK are living with the painful consequences of FGM.
In 2010 alone, it is estimated that 145 women living in Coventry who gave birth in 2010 may have undergone FGM.
Councillor Ann Lucas said: “It’s an absolutely disgraceful state of affairs. This is a crime against women and young girls.”
“Why are girls and young women mutilated? It’s a cultural custom that’s happened for thousands of years in some parts of the world. It’s about making a young women to be attractive in the marriage stakes.”
As a result of the cultural procedure, West Midlands Police have launched ‘Operation Sentinel’ to focus on protecting the vulnerable members of society against risk of honor-based violence, human trafficking, domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation.
Coventry schools are also raising awareness about the risk of FGM in the run-up to summer holidays when girls may be taken abroad for female circumcision.
Alison Gingell, a Coventry City Councillor, brought awareness about this issue early last year.
She added: “It’s an issue about protecting girls in our country. Girls are suffering terrific physiological consequences, they have terrible medical problems with childbirth. As a responsible local authority, of course we need to tackle it.”
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