Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hospital Reveals 1,500 New Cases of 'Cutting', Including UK-Born Victims

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hospital Reveals 1,500 New Cases of 'Cutting', Including UK-Born Victims

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

MORE than 1,500 new cases of female genital mutilation have been revealed by a single London maternity unit in an indication of the scale of the suffering inflicted on women in the capital.

St George's hospital in Tooting has treated as many as 200 women a year since it began compiling statistics on the barbaric practice.

Many of the 1,546 victims seen at the hospital were born in Somalia and substantial numbers were from Nigeria and Eritrea.

But at least 11 of the women were born in Britain, where genital mutilation has been illegal since 1985.

The statistics were provided to the Evening Standard following our report this month on figures showing that more than 2,000 victims have been treated at seven other NHS trusts with specialist services for women with FGM.

Campaigners described those statistics as "horrifying" and MPs today added their voices to calls for intensified action across government to address the problem.

Karen Lewis, a midwife at St George's who specialises in helping FGM victims, said the figures highlighted the prevalence of the practice, but warned that other victims were "slipping through the net" because of a lack of knowledge among some medical staff.

She said some staff regarded mutilation as a "cultural issue" rather than abuse, and that although efforts to address this were under way, a more concerted campaign was needed.

"The women we see have often faced years of pain and suffer flashbacks and other psychological problems. Some of them are also terrified of childbirth because of what's happened to them in the past," she said.

"Some of them also don't realise that FGM is wrong and are quite horrified when we tell them. So we need to do much more to raise awareness and have a big educational campaign to stop it happening to more girls in the future. …

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