UK: Horror of 'Tradition'

IT IS carried out as a cultural practice. But it is wholly illegal in the UK, can have fatal consequences, and has been rightly labelled as child abuse and a violation of human rights.

It is female circumcision the removal or part-removal of the external female genitalia.

Today, the ECHO reveals evidence of the horrific "tradition" still active in Liverpool.

We also tell how local girls as young as four are being taken abroad during their school holidays to be subjected to this highly-dangerous procedure.

Over three years, 237 women who sought maternity services in Liverpool were identified as victims.

Unlike male circumcision, which may be justified on medical grounds, there is absolutely no benefit for its female counterpart.

The practice is common in some African countries, particularly Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Mali.

In Liverpool, there are some African ethnic groups where it is thought that 90% of women will have been subjected to some form of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Both the short-term and long-term effects can be devastating.

They include infections and birth complications. In the most extreme cases, such mutilation can result in death.

Now a campaign is underway to educate the affected communities and raise awareness of the side-effects.

But ultimately, there is also the sanction of the law, which forbids female circumcision in Britain, or the removal of any permanent resident abroad for such purposes.

A measure of the seriousness of the crime is that it carries a penalty of up to 14 years in jail.

Everything possible must be done to eradicate this butchery.

And that includes a willingness by people to alert the police if they suspect such abuses.

SOURCE: Liverpool Echo

URL: Click here

DATE: 07/02/2008

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