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FGM: First statistics revealed since the reporting rule

The first statistics have been released on the number of cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) since the government made it mandatory for healthcare professionals to report FGM in girls under 18 to the police.

Between October and December 2015, 17 GP practices submitted one or more FGM attendance record.

The most common method of identifying FGM was self-report by the patient, accounting for 73% of cases where the FGM identification method was known.

This comes after, in October last year, the government made it mandatory that healthcare professionals must report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in girls under 18 that they come across in their work to the police.

In the first three months of this rule, between October and December 2015, there were 1,316 newly recorded cases of FGM, with 2,238 total attendances where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken.

But most of these cases were women, as 35 girls under 18 at the time of their first attendance were reported, comprising just 3% of all newly recorded cases.

Moreover, the number of identifications in primary care was still low, as 82 NHS trusts and submitted one or more FGM attendance record. “Almost all the information was submitted by NHS trusts. GP practices submitted just 2% of newly recorded women and girls and 1% of total attendances,” the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), that provided the data, stated.

The most cases overall - for all women and children - were from London (347), compared to the north of England (194), Midlands and east of England (105) and the south of England (86).

HSCIC also revealed that nearly all (91%) of women and girls with a known country of birth were born in an Eastern, Northern or Western African country.

The most common type of FGM was type 1 (total removal of the clitoris), followed by type 3 (narrowing the vaginal opening, often by sewing it up) and type 2 (partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora). Type 4 FGM (pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, stretching and cauterising the genital area) was much less reported.

Somalia in Eastern Africa accounts for more than one third of all newly recorded women and girls with a known country of birth. Other countries with a large volume of cases include Eritrea in Eastern Africa, the Sudan in Northern Africa and Nigeria in Western Africa.

FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, with the law being strengthened in 2003 to prevent girls travelling from the UK and undergoing FGM abroad.