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The alleged criminals live in Britain and the baby is believed to have been mutilated at five to six weeks old – believed to be the youngest case reported.

 

Police officers in London have arrested two people over the genital mutilation of a baby girl, it has been reported.

The alleged criminals live in Britain and the baby is believed to have been mutilated at five to six weeks old – believed to be the youngest case reported.

Female genital mutilation involves the cutting or removal of female sexual tissue and has been illegal in the UK since 1985.

However, because a culture of secrecy surrounds the procedure, no one in the UK has ever been prosecuted for the crime, but officers hope this case could lead to the first.

Police have submitted a file to prosecutors but doubts remain because, although the little girl is now a British national, it is not known if she was at the time.

Despite the high number of cases – 80 so far this year – nobody has yet been prosecuted for the practice.

Last month the Crown Prosecution Service said it is studying five case files passed on by the Metropolitan Police.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders recently said a charge would be made relatively shortly, reports the Evening Standard.

More than 1,500 new cases of female genital mutilation have been revealed by a single London maternity unit and staff admit that other cases could have ‘slipped through the net.’

St George’s hospital in Tooting has treated nearly 200 women a year since it started keeping records on the violent practice, it emerged last month.

While most of the 1,546 victims treated in the hospital’s specialist unit were born in Somalia, disturbing statistics show that at least 11 were born in the UK.

Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is a common practice among some Muslim communities across the middle of Africa, including Somalia, Eritrea, North Sudan and central Mali.

It is also present in Muslim communities in Indonesia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

The operation involves cutting or removing of female sexual tissue. It can also involve stitching using silk thread or catgut.

The process is supposed to cleanse the woman of sexual impurity and victims can spend up to 40 days bound from the waist down while healing.

The operation is usually performed on children or young girls before entering adolescence, though ages vary from community to community.

Given that most surgeries are performed by untrained women, commonly aunts of the girls or village matrons, risks include infection, pain, sterility, and death due to blood loss.

Families often club together to fly professional ‘cutters’ to the UK from Africa, after which they perform mutilations on pre-pubescent girls for as little as £40, often without anaesthetic, using blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels.

Due to the nature of the wounds, problems can occur later during childbirth.

While the practice has been illegal in the UK since 1985, there have so far been no prosecutions due in part to victim’s reluctance to come forward, and also because some women do not recognise it as a crime.

The practice is also specifically outlawed in Belgium, Sweden and some US states.

In Africa several nations, including Somalia, have made declarations against the practice though across the continent legislation is patchy and difficult to enforce.

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