UK & World News
Failure To Tackle FGM 'Is A National Scandal'
Thousands of UK girls have become victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in what has been described as a "national scandal".
The Commons Home Affairs Committee said FGM may be one of the most prevalent forms of "severe physical child abuse" taking place in Britain.
Its report said there are an estimated 170,000 women and girls in the UK who have undergone FGM - with an estimated 65,000 girls under the age of 13 at risk.
The committee blamed a "misplaced concern for cultural sensitivities over the rights of the child" for the failure of authorities to deal with a practice largely associated with communities from parts of Africa.
FGM has been outlawed in Britain since 1985 although the first prosecution only took place this year.
The report has called on the Government to introduce "FGM protection orders" similar to those that exist for forced marriage.
It also suggests ministers should change the law to make it a criminal offence to fail to report child abuse.
"FGM is a severe form of gender-based violence and, where it is carried out on a girl, it is an extreme form of child abuse," it said.
"The failure to respond adequately to the growing prevalence of FGM in the UK over recent years has likely resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care."
"This is a national scandal for which successive governments, politicians, the police, health, education and social care sectors all share responsibility."
FGM is most commonly carried out on girls between the ages of five and eight.
It is often performed by traditional practitioners with no formal training, without anaesthetics, using knives, scissors or even pieces of glass.
MPs say the lack of convictions in the UK stem from the police and Crown Prosecution Service being "far too passive in their approach to FGM by waiting for survivors to come forward and report".
The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said: "We need to act immediately. We owe survivors of FGM the chance to save others from this horrific abuse."