FGM prevalence highest in London boroughs of Southwark and Brent, report shows

City University London and the human rights organisation Equality Now have published national and local estimates of female genital mutilation in England and Wales

National and local estimates of the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in England and Wales have been published in a report by City University London and the human rights organisation Equality Now.

The research has combined information from surveys in 29 countries where FGM is more commonly practised, with information from the 2011 census about women who had migrated from those countries.

The results showed that the highest FGM prevalence rates were in London boroughs, with the highest being 4.7% of women in Southwark and 3.9% in Brent.  This compares with a rate of 0.5% in England and Wales as a whole. 

Manchester, Slough, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham have prevalence rates ranging from 1.2% to 1.6%. Other areas, including Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Coventry, Sheffield, Reading, Thurrock, Northampton and Oxford had rates of more than 0.7%.

The report also found that the majority of people born in countries where FGM is practised tend to be concentrated in urban areas, but adds that it is unlikely that any local authority is entirely free from FGM.

Equality Now FGM programme manager, Mary Wandia said: 'We hope that policy makers at all levels – including in local authorities – urgently respond to these new estimates.

'The UK as a whole should also continue to lead the way on providing a model to tackle this extreme form of violence against girls and women. This means stepping up work to prevent it, protecting girls at risk, providing support to survivors, pursuing prosecutions when necessary and continuing to develop relevant partnerships, to ensure that all work to end this human rights violation is joined up and effective at every level.'

Commenting on the report, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president David Richmond said that the new estimates will help healthcare professionals to plan and improve FGM services both locally and nationally.

‘These estimates suggest that thousands of women and girls in virtually every part of England and Wales are living with the long-term physical and psychological consequences of FGM and it is our role to ensure that these women receive high quality care by obstetricians, gynaecologists and other healthcare professionals,' he said.

‘We have a pivotal responsibility in providing accessible advice, treatment and support to women affected by FGM while ensuring that children are protected.’


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