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Healthcare professionals urged to be alert to FGM as ‘cutting season’ approaches

As so-called ‘cutting season’ approaches, health professionals have been urged to look out for young girls at risk of female genital mutilation.
FGM

As so-called cutting season approaches, health professionals have been urged to look out for young girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Barnardo's, the childrens charity, believes it is vital that anyone whose job brings them into regular contact with young girls should know the signs to look out for.

According to the charity, cutting season arrives at the start of the summer holidays when girls are likely to be flown abroad to undergo the procedure, which is illegal in the UK.

The National FGM Centre, run by Barnardos and the Local Government Association, trains people who work with children on how to spot girls at risk as well as those who have been subject to FGM.

Risk signs include girls saying they are going away to:

  • Have a special procedure.
  • Attend an occasion to become a

As so-called ‘cutting season’ approaches, health professionals have been urged to look out for young girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM
Picture: iStock

Barnardo's, the children’s charity, believes it is vital that anyone whose job brings them into regular contact with young girls should know the signs to look out for.

According to the charity, cutting season’ arrives at the start of the summer holidays when girls are likely to be flown abroad to undergo the procedure, which is illegal in the UK.

The National FGM Centre, run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, trains people who work with children on how to spot girls at risk as well as those who have been subject to FGM.

Risk signs include girls saying they are going away to:

  • Have a ‘special procedure’.
  • Attend an occasion to ‘become a woman’.
  • Take a long holiday in a country where the practice is prevalent.

Physical signs of a procedure having already taken place include: difficulty in walking or sitting down comfortably; taking a long time in the toilet; and significant changes in behaviour, such as becoming withdrawn.

Figures from NHS Digital released this week show that, between January and March 2017, there were 2,102 attendances for FGM reported at healthcare organisations in England.

This figure includes 1,236 cases recorded for the first time, with 95% being aged 17 or younger when the FGM was carried out. 155 cases occurred in eastern Africa, 46 in northern Africa, 67 in western Africa and 17 in western Asia.

But 17 women or girls who had undergone FGM said the procedure had been undertaken in the UK.

Anti-FGM organisation Plan International UK chief executive Tanya Barron said: ‘The NHS figures testify that, while we must do everything we can to protect girls in the UK from FGM, we will only end this practice here once it is ended everywhere.’


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