Female Genital Mutilation’s prevalence in the UK is difficult to estimate because of the hidden nature of the crime. A study conducted by City University London (2014) estimated that
- Approximately 60,000 girls aged 0 to 14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM
- Approximately 103,000 women aged 15 to 49 and approximately 24,000 women aged 50 and over who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM
- Approximately 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM
FGM cases will not be evenly distributed across the UK and will be more prevalent in communities from practicing countries. The City University London study identified higher prevalence rates in London, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Crawley, Reading, Slough and Milton Keynes.
Since September 2014, all acute hospital providers in England are required to return monthly aggregated data about the incidence of FGM identified. The NHS began collecting an enhanced dataset in April 2015. The FGM Enhanced Dataset contains more data items than previously, including some patient identifiable demographic data, and is extending the collection to include mental health trusts and GP practices.
For 2015 to 2016 it was found that
- There were 5,702 newly recorded cases of FGM reported, and 8,656 total attendances where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken
- More than half of all cases relate to women and girls from London NHS Commissioning Region
- Self-report was the most frequent method of FGM identification, accounting for 73 per cent of cases where the FGM identification method was known
- 106 girls under 18 at the time of their first attendance were reported, comprising 2 per cent of all newly recorded cases
- 87 percent of women with a known pregnancy status were pregnant at the point of attendance
- 90 percent of women and girls with a known country of birth were born in an Eastern, Northern or Western African country, and 6 percent were born in Asia
- Somalia in Eastern Africa accounts for more than one third of all newly recorded women and girls with a known country of birth (37 percent). Other countries with a large volume of cases include Eritrea in Eastern Africa, the Sudan in Northern Africa and Nigeria and the Gambia in Western Africa
- 43 newly recorded cases of FGM involved women and girls reported to have been born in the United Kingdom. Of those with a known FGM type, more than 40 per cent were reported with FGM Type 4 – Piercing
- Where the FGM Type is known, Types 1 and 2 have the highest incidence (35 and 31 percent respectively)
- The most frequent age range at which the FGM was carried out was between 5 and 9 years old, involving 43 percent of cases where the age was known
- In 18 newly recorded cases, the FGM was reported to have been undertaken in the United Kingdom, including 11 women and girls who were also reported to have been born in the UK. Where the nature of the UK procedures was known, around 10 were reported with FGM Type 4 – Piercing
- 145 de-infibulation procedures were reported, occurring at 4 percent of attendances where de-infibulation status was recorded
Figure 1 shows this detail at a Trust level for those geographically located Wokingham Borough.
Figure 1: Number of newly identified cases of FGM at a Trust level (April 2015 to March 2016)
Number of newly identified cases of FGM
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
Source: NHS Digital (2016)
FGM incidence data is published at a Local Authority and CCG levels, however analysis is difficult due to the small numbers reported and also the mechanisms in place to capture this data.