Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs.
The procedure is often carried out without anaesthetic; making it an agonising and life-threatening initiation ritual that can cause physical and psychological damage which will continue for years after the procedure has been performed, often well in to adult hood.
The NSPCC have discovered that more than 70 women and young girls, some as young as seven, seek treatment every month for female genital mutilation and other problems caused by it, and have launched a dedicated FGM helpline with the aim of protecting UK children.
In the NSPCC press release here (www.nspcc.org.uk/news-and-views/media-centre/press-releases/2013/fgm-helpline-launch/female-genital-mutilation-helpline_wdn96859.html) Lisa Harker, NSPCC Head of Strategy, says “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. This is why we believe a dedicated helpline with specially trained child protection advisors is needed to help overcome the difficulties in protecting children from such a complex and secretive form of abuse.”
The NSPCC believe that the number of potential victims is even higher than that reported, as only a small fraction of victims come forward; with others being pressured to remain silent by other members of their community and some even being threatened with violence if they seek help or speak to anyone outside of the community.
The new helpline is designed for anyone that may be concerned about the welfare of a child and thinks that they may be at risk of genital mutilation and are seeking advice, information or support on what actions to take. The NSPCC are working closely with the Metropolitan Police and any information that could protect a child from abuse will be passed on to the police and social services, while the caller’s information can remain anonymous.
For more information about female genital mutilation, you can visit the NSPCC factsheet here. (www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/resourcesforprofessionals/minorityethnic/female-genital-mutilation_wda96841.html)