The lack of successful prosecutions for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) is a “national scandal”, said a home affairs committee.
The committee said in a report that it is “beyond belief” that 30 years after FGM was made illegal in the UK there has not been one successful prosecution.
The report added that the “lamentable record” will deter people from coming forward to report the crime and is a “national scandal that is continuing to result in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls”.
It says: “Existing disciplinary procedures for professionals who ignore the duty on mandatory reporting are insufficient and ineffective and it is unacceptable that some clinicians appear to refuse to accept it as their responsibility.
“The duty to report must not be seen as optional. A decision not to report puts children’s lives at risk and is complicit in a crime being committed.”
A study from researchers at City University estimated that 137,000 women and girls who have been subjected to FGM living in England and Wales in 2011.
Meanwhile, the first set of statistics on FGM, released in July by NHS Digital, said there had been 5,700 new cases recorded in 2015/16, with 18 cases recorded as happening in the UK.
Having been illegal in the UK since 1985, the first prosecution for FGM was brought to trial last year.
Since 2010, only 29 cases of FGM have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The report added that there was a “strong case” for routinely examining children thought to be at risk for FGM.
Tim Loughton MP, Interim Chair of the Committee, said: “FGM can leave women and girls with significant lifelong health and psychological consequences. We intend to continue to draw attention to this horrific crime to improve the safeguarding of at-risk girls.
“We are dismayed that there have been no convictions for FGM-related offences. When we next review FGM, the new laws against the practice will have ‘bedded in’ and we expect to see a number of successful prosecutions.
“We welcome many of the steps that the Government has taken to prevent FGM and our report calls for that work to be enhanced and strengthened with adequate resources and support for frontline professionals and other groups which work directly with practicing communities.”