Still 9,000 too many
The NHS recorded more than 9,000 incidents of female genital mutilation (FGM) in England between April 2016 and March 2017. The NHS Digital noted the data comes from NHS trusts and general practitioner officers.
The Guardian reported:
The findings show that in the last year there were 9,179 attendances in which FGM was either identified, treatment was given, or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl.
In total, 5,391 attendances were recorded in the system for the first time – 114 of which were girls under the age of 16.
The report reveals only a slight drop on figures from 2016 in which 9,223 attendances were reported in total, of which 6,080 were newly recorded.
While the small decline of reported instances of FGM is a positive, Wendy Preston, who heads nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, explained that even though FGM has received more attention, “the number of women and girls subjected to it is not falling fast enough.” The Guardian continued:
Preston added that the fall in the number of school nurses in recent years was detrimental to efforts to tackle the issue, and called on the government to attract and retain school nurses.
“Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex and relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk,” she said.
“Yet recent figures show the number of school nurses has fallen 16% since 2010, largely as a result of government cuts to local authority health budgets. It is not right that vulnerable children pay the price for funding reductions and poor workforce planning.”
The BBC reported charity groups are pushing the government not to withdraw funding that supports anti-FGM activities. The charity Barnado and the Local Government Association (LGM) run the National FGM Centre, but director Michelle Lee-Izu has said it could close “if government funding is withdrawn.”
LGA’s Cllr Simon Blackburn insists the government must secure funding for the center:
He said: “Social work provision to girls and families affected by FGM has been quickly and significantly improved through the intervention of Centre social workers, embedded in council safeguarding teams, and hundreds of referrals have been received in areas that previously only recorded a handful of cases each year.
Mr Blackburn added that the government needed to back its commitment to ending FGM in the UK “with the long-term funding required to make that vision a reality”.
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