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The shocking new figures on female genital mutilation in Coventry; The practice has been illegal in the UK since 1985.

Byline: Laura Hartley

One new victim of female genital mutilation is being identified nearly every week in Coventry.

Newly released NHS figures reveal healthcare professionals recorded 50 new cases of women and girls having undergone the traumatic procedure - which is illegal in the UK - in 2018/19.

Female genital mutiliation (FGM) involves procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs.

There are no health benefits of FGM and it is classed as child abuse.

The NHS warns that infections and excessive bleeding are common consequences of the procedures - both of which can be deadly.

A total of 60 women and girls acrossCoventry and Rugby CCGin 2018/19 - including the new cases - were identified by healthcare professionals as having undergone FGM.

In more than half of cases (35), the victim's age was not known or not recorded.

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In around five cases the girl was aged under one-year-old at the time of the procedure.

The exact figure is unknown because numbers are rounded to the nearest five to protect the anonymity of victims.

In an estimated five further cases, the girls were aged between one and four, around 15 were aged between five and nine, and around five were aged between 10 and 14.

There were around five people over the age of 18 at the time they underwent FGM, too.

Revealed: Number of new cases of female genital mutilation in Coventry

Earlier this year, a mother of three from London was the first person in the UK to be convicted of female genital mutilation - which carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

The court was told that she performed the procedure against her three year old daughter.

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

The NHS says that most cases of FGM are carried out on young girls up to the age of 15 - most commonly before puberty starts.

Across England there were 6,415 women and girls identified in 2018/19 as having had FGM - and 4,120 of those were new cases.

An age breakdown was not provided for new cases, but more than half of all women and girls identified as having undergone FGM (3,895) did not have their age recorded or it was not known.

The figures reveal 380 were aged under 12 months at the time their FGM was carried out.

A further 685 were aged between one and four years old and 805 were aged between five and nine years old.

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There were 170 girls identified as having had FGM between 10 and 14 years old, and 25 between 15 and 17 years old.

A further 455 were adults when they had the procedure.

In most cases the FGM will have been carried out in a different country, though 100 women and girls were found to have undergone the procedure in the UK.

Across England, Birmingham and Solihull CCG had the highest number of new victims of FGM identified in 2018/19, at 305.

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An NSPCC spokesperson said: "We know from calls to our dedicated FGM Helpline that girls around the country are at risk of this dangerous practice.

"Let us be clear, FGM is child abuse. It has no health benefits whatsoever and can have terrible and lasting physical, psychological, and emotional consequences.

"Those who subject girls to FGM may do so because of pressures from their community, cultural norms, or believe it will improve the chances of marriage.

"Hard as it may be, it is vital that those who know a child is at risk break the silence and speak up so we can end this abuse once and for all."

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Publication:Coventry Telegraph (Coventry, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 29, 2019
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