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Female genital cutting

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Published on May 30, 2013

As threat of female genital mutilation (FGM) increases in UK, Britain's national children's charity has launched a hotline to help protect girls from FGM - a life threatening initiation ritual, which it branded a "barbaric" form of child abuse.

The government says more than 20,000 girls in Britain could be at risk of FGM. But the practice is shrouded in secrecy and people have been threatened with violence if they speak out.

"The UK's child victims of female genital mutilation are hidden behind a wall of silence. Like other forms of abuse, if female genital mutilation is not exposed it will continue to thrive and more children will suffer," said Lisa Harker, Head of Strategy at the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Read the full article by Emma Batha on http://www.trust.org/item/20130623202...

2013 © Thomson Reuters Foundation

Genital cutting is a practice that puts millions of girls a year at risk of serious physical and psychological problems.

In 2012 the United Nations passed a resolution to ban female genital mutilation (FGM) - a practice that puts millions of girls a year at risk of serious physical and psychological problems.

Up to 140 million girls and women worldwide bear the scars of FGM.

It can cause severe bleeding, pain, shock, recurrent urinary tract infections, cysts and infertility. It increases the risk of labour complications and newborn deaths. The procedure itself can prove fatal.

A key focus of the inaugural Trust Women conference, co-hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune in London in December 2012, was to find concrete ways to stop FGM.

This video opened a conference session on the issue.

Related content on: http://www.trust.org/item/20130611122...

"UN agencies tell Egypt to enforce FGM ban after girl's death", by Emma Batha

Read more on: http://www.trust.org/item/20120924090...

2012 © Thomson Reuters Foundation

Transcript:

Up to 140 million girls and women worldwide bear the scars of female genital mutilation, or FGM.

FGM is widely practised in parts of Africa, and pockets of the Middle East and Asia, including Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia.

Each year in Africa alone, around 3 million girls are subjected to FGM. Many believe FGM preserves a girls' virginity. They see it as an important rite of passage and prerequisite for marriage. Parents say it is done out of love because it purifies the girl and brings her status. FGM is found among Muslim and Christian communities.

The "cutting" is done with instruments ranging from scalpels and razor blades to scissors, broken glass or tin can lids.

The most severe type of FGM involves the total removal of the genitalia and stitching of the vaginal opening. (French hospital chairs and instruments)

The health consequences can be severe: pain, shock, urinary infections, cysts, infertility, menstruation problems.

FGM increases the risk of labour complications and newborn deaths. The procedure itself can be fatal.

The psychological effects can last a lifetime.

In December, the United Nations is expected to adopt a resolution introduced by African states that would ban FGM worldwide.

It won't be enforceable, but campaigners see it as an important step on the road to an FGM-free world.

Twenty of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is practiced have banned it. But laws are poorly enforced. Others like Mali, Liberia and Sudan have no FGM law at all.

In Britain, the government says up to 24,000 girls could be at risk of FGM. But despite criminalising the practice almost 30 years ago, there has not been a single trial.

By contrast, France has by far the largest number of FGM trials in Europe -- with more than 100 parents convicted. Lawyers say this has acted as a deterrent, helping reduce the practice significantly.

But is criminalising parents in the best interests of the girls? And how do you enforce bans in places where traditional laws hold sway?

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