Updated: Thursday, 2nd April 2020 @ 8:03pm

'Barbaric': Manchester MP John Leech adds voice to condemnation of female genital mutilation

'Barbaric': Manchester MP John Leech adds voice to condemnation of female genital mutilation

| By Mihaela Ivantcheva

Manchester MP John Leech has added his voice to the growing condemnation of female genital mutilation, describing the practice as ‘barbaric’.

Mr Leech, the Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington, has joined the quest to end the procedure.

Liberal Democrats have recently launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness, addressing this issue and gathering evidence on how to better prevent violence against women and girls.

“Female genital mutilation is a dangerous and barbaric practice that has neither religious nor medical justifications,” Mr Leech said.

Following a cross-government roundtable, the Coalition Government has introduced a package of measures to combat the practice including making it mandatory for all NHS acute hospitals to provide information on patients who have suffered or are at risk of suffering FGM.

Globally, around 140 million women and girls have undergone FGM, also known as female circumcision, and three million are at risk.

Mr Leech added: “Around 20,000 girls are at risk from FGM each year in the UK, and more than 600,000 girls have already been affected by it.

“I have always defended fundamental human rights and believe this practice must be stopped as soon as possible. I condemn FGM and I will continue working in order to stop girls in the UK and across the world from being mutilated.

According to the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Partnership, the region has one of the highest number of cases in Britain.

As part of the painful custom girls as young as six across the region are being taken abroad by their families or cutters are flown into the Manchester area.

In such cases, girls and women talk about holidays where they will ‘become a woman’ or ‘become just like my mum and sister’.

After the procedure has been performed, the girls often find it hard to sit still at school, avoid sport and exercise and often ask for a time off due to complications related to the procedure.

Last year, international development minister Lynne Featherstone MP announced a £35million programme to help end FGM within a generation, and specifically reducing it by 30 percent in at least ten countries in the next five years.

Ms Featherstone said: “We will not see an end to FGM in the UK unless the practice is eliminated worldwide. This will take a grassroots movement across Africa that can change attitudes and help communities see FGM for what it is: child abuse.

“This campaign will unite activists across Africa with UK diaspora communities and charities, raising awareness of the pain and suffering FGM causes and showing that it is possible to end the practice.”

Female genital mutilation is any procedure which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for no medical reason.

Many believe that FGM is necessary to ensure acceptance by their community, however this custom is against the law in the UK and many other countries.

All types of FGM are illegal in the UK and it is an offence to take a female out of the UK for FGM. It is also illegal for anyone to circumcise women or children for cultural or non-medical reasons here in the UK.

This custom is practised largely among African and Middle Eastern communities and also in some Asian communities.

There are four types of FGM and all of them are illegal in the UK; it is an offence to take a female out of the UK for FGM or for anyone to circumcise women or children for cultural or non-medical reasons here in the UK.

And while in the UK the practice is seen as an abuse and violence against women and girls, female genital mutilation is perceived in Somali, Egyptian, Sudanese and Middle Eastern communities as essential to preserve a girl’s purity and honour.

The communities believe FGM is a necessary custom to ensure acceptance by their community.

Image courtesy of VMODF via YouTube, with thanks.