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Keith Vaz announces major female mutilation inquiry in UK

PTI | Last Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 21:09

London: Britain`s senior-most Indian-origin MP, Keith Vaz, has announced a major parliamentary inquiry into female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of measures to end the practice among certain communities in the country.
MPs from the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee will investigate why no charges have been brought against "cutters" or others who arrange for girls to be mutilated nearly three decades after FGM was made illegal.

As the panel`s chairman, Vaz said: "It is astonishing that since FGM was made a crime in 1985 nobody has been prosecuted. This is a concern both to the diaspora communities and also the NHS and it is important that light is cast on this practice and action is taken.

"That is why this committee is launching an inquiry into FGM. We are keen to hear from any victims and those who have been affected by this practice."

FGM, which involves cutting off all or parts of the vagina, was made illegal in Britain in 1985. Further legislation in 2003 made it illegal to have the practice carried out abroad.

Vaz told the Evening Standard newspaper, which has been running a campaign on the issue, that first-hand evidence and advice from those who have fallen victim to the practice would be the best way to prevent it and track down perpetrators.

Scotland Yard is currently examining five case studies, which they hope will provide an insight into the best way to secure more prosecutions.

The practice is most common in the western, eastern and north-eastern regions of Africa, and in some countries of Asia and the Middle East.

It has long been associated with countries like Mali, Somalia and Sudan and some parts of the Middle East.

FGM takes different forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls` genitals for non-medical reasons.

The cutting is carried out for a number of reasons but in many areas girls are cut to improve their marriage prospects.

It is estimated about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

First Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 21:09

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