United Kingdom: Government Fails to Protect Girls from Female Genital Mutilation
Friday, July 11, 2014 12:35 AM

At least 170,000 girls in the United Kingdom are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) and thousands more are at risk from the procedure, according to a recent report released by the British Home Affairs Committee that outlines the prevalence of FGM in the UK. The report's authors criticize what they desribe as a systematic failure by British officials to prevent FGM and punish those who subject girls to the procedure, calling it a “national scandal.” They have urged the UK government to develop a “comprehensive and fully resourced” action plan to combat the practice.

The UK criminalized FGM in 1985, but failed to file any prosecutions until 2014. The report’s authors contrasted this passive approach with the success of French prosecutors who aggressively pursue FGM convictions. The report found that the UK police and Crown Prosecution Service generally wait “for survivors to come forward and report” and that healthcare officials rarely refer cases of FGM to the authorities. 

In order to increase the likelihood that girls subjected to FGM might be willing to break the “silence” surrounding the practice, the report calls for increased privacy and support for victims. It also suggests using protection orders to prevent girls from being forced to have the procedure done abroad.

Compiled from: Failure to stop FGM is a ‘national scandal’, say MPs, BBC News (July 3, 2014).