A network of specialist Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) clinics are to be opened in England to identify survivors and stop more young girls from being mutilated.
Eight one-stop shop centres will offer expert physical, mental and emotional care to hundreds of FGM survivors.
The specialist staff will include doctors, midwives, nurses and counsellors.
NHS staff are often the first to identify survivors, usually when they are pregnant and access maternity services. Over the last three months almost 1,000 women and girls were identified as having been affected.
Patricia Yainkain Mansaray was cut when she was just a child in Sierra Leone.
She told Sky News she understands why so many parents from communities that practice FGM feel cultural pressure to have their daughters cut. But she said coming to Britain and speaking to other survivors had helped her realise there is no point to the barbaric practice.
I remember the beating of the drums – they sound different. You get the elderly community members around you, pampering you. I remember the pain from the cut.
The pain is severe and if you don’t have a good medical facility you could bleed to death. For me, I was lucky. I healed up and the only trauma I faced, was when I went off to start relationship and all those things, children. But seeing that you are different from the others, that was the time I said ‘what is this?’ I started asking questions.
Mrs Mansaray said she would protect future generations of girls, including her own daughter. I won’t do it to my daughter as I don’t see any reason behind it, no reason. It is something that it is being passed on, they don’t know why.
Hilary Garratt, deputy chief nursing officer for England, said: These new NHS clinics will benefit hundreds of women who have suffered this most severe form of abuse and violence. These are clinics for women, run by women.
Between April 2018 and March 2019 some 6,415 women who used NHS services were identified as FGM survivors and the vast majority (80%) were using the NHS to access maternity care. Since 2015, when the records began, 20,470 women have been identified as FGM survivors.
So far there has only been one successful FGM conviction in the UK.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: I’ve been incredibly moved by the stories of girls and women who have been subjected to FGM, and am determined to do everything I can to support the survivors of this horrific act. FGM continues to devastate lives and it is vital the NHS does what it can to help.
It’s absolutely crucial we reach more women so they can access support services that take care of mental, emotional, physical and clinical needs. These clinics will have a profound impact – helping women who have been violated in the most traumatic of ways to move on from this violence and lead happier, healthier lives.