Two years ago, the British National Health Services began tracking patients who had undergone female genital mutilation. Its latest report, covering April 2016-March 2017, revealed the practice was shockingly prevalent: More than 9,000 of the women treated in the past year had mutilated genitals.
The incidents were recorded by NHS medical workers and general practitioners, most often discovered as women sought midwifery or obstetrics services. The patients’ average age was 31.
Even though the UK has worked to raise awareness about female genital mutilation, “the number of women and girls subjected to it is not falling fast enough,” Wendy Preston, head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, told the Guardian.
The report also offered some demographic information about the women who had been subjected to female genital mutilation.
Nearly nine in 10 were born in Africa, with Somalian women accounting for a staggering 35 percent of newly recorded cases.
The NHS also found that female genital mutilation was most commonly performed when girls were aged between five and nine; in 95 percent of the cases, women had endured the procedure before they turned 18.
In 655 of the newly recorded cases, women had undergone the most extreme form of female genital mutilation, where the clitoris, inner and outer labia had been removed. So-called Type III procedures put women at risk of keloid scars, birthing complications, and even death.
In 154 cases, women needed deinfibulation, a surgical procedure to open up genitals that have been sewn together after mutilation, leaving only a small hole for urination and menstruation.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.