British girls and Female Genital Mutilation

Between 500 and 2,000 British girls will endure genital mutilation during the Summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad; others will have the operation carried out by a woman already living here, or flown in from abroad to deal with several girls at once. The practice is an extremely old one. It pre-dates Christianity, Islam, and maybe even Judaism. The UK has legislation in place to prosecute people involved in the practice. It is an offence under the UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 to perform FGM or to aid, abet or procure the service of another person to do so. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it illegal for FGM to be carried out on a permanent UK resident, anywhere in the world. But to date, no prosecutions have been made under this legislation. The reasons why families – often mothers – subject their daughters to the practice are complex. To fully stamp out the practice, the authorities need to understand these complex reasons and educate people about the dangers. People believe, e.g., that it is required by their religious beliefs. But there is nothing in either the Bible or the Koran stating that women should be circumcised. Simply telling people that this is the case is often enough for them to decide not to have their daughters circumcised. In addition, many people do not know what the practices of FGM actually involve. Once informed, they again choose not to subject their daughters to any of them. You can read more here.