Home secretary David Blunkett has backed a private
member’s bill, which will make it illegal to take girls
abroad for genital mutilation – a procedure he called
“barbaric”, writes Sally Gillen.
The bill, which also proposes increasing the maximum penalty for
performing and procuring FGM (also known as circumcision) from five
to 14 years, was introduced by Ann Clywd MP and received its second
reading last week.
Blunkett said: “Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice
that is rightly illegal in this country. It cannot be justified on
cultural medical or any other grounds. It causes extreme pain and
suffering and often leads to permanent health problems.”
He added that he had visited groups working with women who had
“suffered this appalling practice and was very moved by their
It is estimated that around 74,000 first generation African
immigrant women in the UK have undergone the procedure and that
7,000 girls aged under 16 are at risk. FGM is normally carried out
between four and 16 but in some cases it is performed on new born
infants or young women before marriage or pregnancy.