THE BLOG

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in London

18/01/2016 16:59 GMT | Updated 18/01/2017 10:12 GMT

I was shocked when I heard that London accounted for over half the number of female genital mutilation (FGM) cases recorded nationwide.

Data released in December showed 758 new incidents were reported in our capital between July and September alone, with 1,385 flagged across the rest of the country.

FGM is a practice that would seem out of place in the dark ages, and yet it is being inflicted on young people living in our city today.

Its frequency is a worrying phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Yet despite its apparent prevalence in the UK, not a single conviction for the illegal practice has ever been achieved.

We as politicians need to recognise and act on this disparity between the number of barbaric and life-changing acts being committed and the complete absence of accountability for the perpetrators.

As a city and as a country we are beginning to recognise FGM as an issue and there has been a rise in the number of support services for young women subjected to the procedure.

But many of these 'operations' take place abroad and young girls are often taken away by their own families to visit a 'cutter', who will carry out the procedure.

It is important therefore that a proactive approach is taken in a bid to identify those at risk before they are taken away against their will.

Teachers, social workers and medical professionals all have a role to play in being alert to the signs so they can help identify young girls at risk before it is too late.

Community figureheads have the potential to be the eyes and ears of the police in helping to tackle these crimes. The police, social workers and other agencies all need to work together.

The Metropolitan Police should look at ways to improve reporting procedures, making it easier for warnings to be flagged.

The Mayor of London also needs to work with the Metropolitan Police and come up with a swift and effective solution that will enable more prosecutions.

It cannot be right that in the 21st Century this practice is able to take place without the fear of interception by law enforcement.

I will be questioning Boris Johnson on the subject at this week's Mayor's Question Time and asking him what his plans are to tackle the problem over the coming months.

It is so important that we encourage and enable a joined up approach between community groups and the authorities to make sure more young girls are saved from suffering abuse.

We owe it to them to come up with results.