Friday, 28 March 2014

Call to tackle female genital mutilation

Local MP Katy Clark has spoken of the “barbarism” involved in female genital mutilation.

Ms Clark spoke to the3towns following a debate in Westminster Hall, in which she called on the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government to bring in tougher laws if current legislation is proved to be inadequate in preventing the practice.

Female genital mutilation is defined by the World Health Organisation as procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Around 25,000 girls are estimated to be at risk of female genital mutilation in the United Kingdom. Although both the UK and Scottish Government have legislated to outlaw the practice, no-one has yet been convicted under the current law.

Katy Clark said, “Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice which has no place in today’s world. It is a form of child abuse that can often have appalling life-long physical and psychological consequences for girls and women. It is of deep concern that so many girls and young women today remain at risk from female genital mutilation in the United Kingdom.”

However, the Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran said she is “encouraged” that, in recent months, campaigns against female genital mutilation have been receiving a higher media profile and widespread public support. Ms Clark noted, “The UK and Scottish Government now need to build on this increased public awareness and take the measures necessary to eradicate this barbarism from our shores once and for all.”

For the UK Government, though, Norman Baker MP, Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention, appeared to suggest that he believes current legislation is adequate and was not considering tougher laws.

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