Lambeth ranked the borough with the fourth highest number of newly recorded female genital mutilation cases in London over a year, according to newly published NHS data.
Between April 2016 and March 2017 170 new FGM cases were recorded in Lambeth by NHS Digital, with 20 of those cases carried out when the girls were under one years old.
The banned practice is common to some African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities and data showed 88% of all 5,391 cases reported in England were carried out on women and girls born in an African country.
Lambeth interim director of public health Ruth Hutt said: “Our high numbers in Lambeth reflect our local population from countries where the practice of FGM is widespread. The high numbers also reflect good reporting in our hospitals.
“The data is gathered through a relatively new reporting mechanism and in many cases we cannot determine where FGM took place.
“When someone presents in maternity services with FGM in Lambeth the healthcare provider will aim to empower her and offer her holistic care. She is assessed to confirm type of FGM she had and when, her care is discussed and any potential risks and complications.
“All partners across Lambeth take FGM extremely seriously.”
Across south west London local authorities, Wandsworth had the second highest level of FGM prevalence 60 reported cases.
Croydon, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton and Sutton reported 30 cases or under in each area.
48% of cases in the UK were recorded in London.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “FGM is child abuse. Despite being illegal for over 30 years, too many people are still being subjected to it and it is right that health services have started to properly record evidence of this horrendous practice.
“The NSPCC Helpline is contacted more than once a day by people worried about girls who may have suffered, or are at risk of, FGM. It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family.
“We need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.”
The life-threatening tradition involves the partial or total removal of a female’s external genitalia for non-medical purposes, according to the World Health Organisation.
Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), an African women-led organisation to end gender discriminatory practices is calling for much more work to be done to tackle FGM-affected communities in light of the NHS findings.
A spokesperson said: “The data reveals that FGM is being carried out on girls under the age of 18 in the UK which is hugely concerning, and there are huge gaps in the data capturing which country FGM was undertaken in, meaning the figures for the UK could be higher.”
Anyone who is concerned a child is at risk or has experienced FGM can call NSPCC FGM helpline advisors on 0800 028 3550. More information can be found at www.nspcc.org.uk/fgm
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