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Scale of female genital mutilation in Kent and Medway revealed

ByKentOnline reporter

​New victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kent have been seen by NHS services over the last year.

While concentrated on larger cities across England, the new figures surprisingly show that cases are also found in the country's smaller towns and rural regions.

For areas where few cases were reported, numbers have been obscured to prevent identification.

There have been cases of FGM in Kent. Picture: Getty Images (2502485)
There have been cases of FGM in Kent. Picture: Getty Images (2502485)

But figures from NHS Digital show that in Kent around 35 victims of FGM - where female genitals are cut, injured or changed for no medical reason - were seen by doctors, nurses or midwives over the last year.

Of those, around 30 were having their injuries recorded by NHS services for the first time.

In Medway there were three new victims over the same period.

While around 6,400 women and girls with FGM were seen by NHS staff in England between April 2017 and March this year, an estimated 137,000 are thought to have been affected by it.

It is illegal in the UK, and carrying out or helping with FGM, either in the UK or abroad, can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "FGM is a barbaric practice that leaves its victims physically and mentally scarred.

"We urge any young women or girls dealing with the physical and emotional impact of FGM to seek help and support.

"Sadly this abuse is all too commonplace - since the launch of our FGM helpline in 2013, we have received hundreds of calls from members of the public, as well as professionals who have questions about how best to support women and girls at risk of this complex form of abuse."

"We urge any young women or girls dealing with the physical and emotional impact of FGM to seek help and support" - NSPCC spokesman

Of those recorded as victims of FGM in the first quarter of 2018, the most common recorded injury was partial removal of genitalia.

The Department for Health's decision to include genital piercings as a form of FGM in 2015 caused controversy, but the figures show that these account for only a small portion of the recorded cases. In nearly half of cases, the type of injury was not recorded.

As well as providing treatment for injuries sustained through FGM, NHS services also advise patients on the illegality of the practice, and provide advice on its long-term health implications.

FGM is most commonly carried out within communities from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and young girls are often flown abroad for ceremonies where FGM is performed.

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