NHS may ask midwives to raise issue of female genital mutilation

Midwaves may be asked to routinely raise subject of FGM with women from communities where it takes place

The Department of Health has indicated new plans to ask midwives to routinely raise the issue of female genital mutilation with women from communities where it is known to take place.

This comes after an action plan on FGM was launched by the Crown Prosecution Service last November.

The DoH are looking to gather data on the numbers of girls who have been illegally mutilated in order to safeguard children from the practice.

Anti-FGM campaigners are welcoming the move, as it is hoped this will help identify baby girls who may be at risk in the future.

FGM is illegal in the UK, but occurs in more than 28 countries in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

It is typically inflicted on girls aged between four and 13. Women who have had their genitalia cut can also have problems during childbirth.

In 2011 the DoH published guidelines for health professionals in England and Wales on how to safeguard children and adults affected by the pracice.

A DoH spokesperson said: ‘FGM is a serious criminal offence. Health professionals should always take action when they believe a child or young person has been assaulted in any way, to protect them and others from further harm.

‘The health system plays a key role in identifying and supporting anyone affected by FGM.

‘That is why we are exploring the collection of FGM data in the NHS, including in the maternity and children’s dataset.’

The Metropolitan Police say there is no evidence of FGM being performed in UK, but they added that anecdotally it is reported to have happened.

There have been no prosecutions in the UK to date, however it is illegal for British nationals or permanent residents to be taken to another country for the procedure and anybody convicted of involvement in it can be jailed for up to 14 years.

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