Police authorities in the United Kingdom have stopped two young girls, thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation, from being taken to Africa. The authorities did not give the name of those taking the girls nor their precise destinations. The BBC said the Bedfordshire police evoked an FGM protection order, which came into effect today, to prevent the girls from leaving the country because it believes the girls are being taken overseas for FGM. “With schools breaking up for the summer holidays today, we will continue to use this legislation where needed to prevent young girls who we believe may be at risk from being taken out of the country,” it quoted a statement from the Bedfordshire Police’s Public Protection Unit. An estimated 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year, the statement added.
According to international advocacy group, Equality Now, about 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales are affected by FGM, many of whom were taking abroad for the practice which was globally banned in 2012. Despite the worldwide ban the WHO says the practice remains in Africa and the Middle East where more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice whereby the genitalia of young girls, often under 15, is partially or totally removed. According to Equality Now, it “ranges from the partial or total removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy), to the removal of the entire clitoris and the cutting of the labia minora (excision), to its most extreme form, the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva (infibulation).” The World Health Organization says the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and that it can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. It is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.