Parents who fail to prevent their daughters from becoming victims of female genital mutilation will face charges, the Prime Minister David Cameron has announced at a global summit in London.
Under the new rules, designed to safeguard potential victims of FGM - also known as female circumcision - police will be able to prosecute parents who knowingly allow their daughters to be cut. Victims will also be granted lifelong anonymity.
The measures are part of a £1.4 million prevention programme unveiled by the prime minister at the Girl Summit, a conference organised by the UK Government and children's charity UNICEF with the aim of eradicating forced or underage marriage and female genital mutilation.
Calling FGM 'abhorrent' in a speech before 500 delegates from around the world, including heads of state and FGM victims, Cameron said that such practices 'violate the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK'.
FGM, or cutting, is usually carried out on girls aged between five and 15 by a non-medically trained local woman, using basic tools such as knives or shards of glass, and often in unsanitary, unsterilised conditions.
The unsafe nature of the procedure can lead to hemorrhaging or infection, while long-term risks include pain and difficulty having sex, urinating or giving birth, infertility, and cysts.
The practice is particularly widespread in some African communities, affecting over 90% of women in Egypt, Djibouti and Somalia.
Immigrants from countries where FGM is practised are a particular cause of concern in the UK, as it is feared they could arrange for the practice to be carried out on their daughters, either within the UK or by taking the child to their country of origin to undergo the procedure.
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, yet as many as 137,000 women in the UK are estimated to have been victims of the practice.
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