NHS records 15 new cases of FGM involving pregnant women in Suffolk and Essex
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Fifteen new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were recorded by health care professionals in Suffolk and north-east Essex during the first three months of this year, new figures reveal.
All of the victims were pregnant at the time of identification, according to data released today by the NHS.
Bal Kaur Howard, who is Suffolk-based and delivers FGM safeguarding training to public sector workers, described the practice as “brutal”.
Between January and March, five women and girls in the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area were identified for the first time as having undergone the procedure; while 10 new cases were recorded in the North East Essex CCG area.
Jan Ingle, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said heath care staff had developed a “much deeper understanding” of FGM by taking part in training and education.
Mrs Howard said the reporting numbers were “promising” as they showed frontline workers were becoming more aware of what signs to look out for, but she thinks more needs to be done.
She added: “The more professionals we can train the more reporting will increase, which is a good thing because we can get to understand the true scale of the problem.”
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and The Serious Crimes Act 2015 made it mandatory for all doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers to tell police if they discover the procedure had been carried out on a girl under 18.
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The NHS records all known cases, involving adult and child patients, in a database.
FGM is predominately carried out in African countries against young girls.
When asked what impact FGM has on victims, Mrs Howard said: “Flashbacks, they do not enjoy sex, they actually have no idea what a normal female genitalia looks like.”
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is working to raise awareness of the problem in the UK.
A spokesman: “We would urge those at risk, or any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help.
“Some families who subject their children to FGM may do so because of cultural norms or that they believe it will help their child improve their life.
“It’s vital that everyone realises FGM serves no purpose, leaves long lasting physical and emotional scars on the victims, and is a form of child abuse.”