Birmingham & Black Country

FGM reporting figures 'on the rise' say West Midlands Police

Virginia and Hannah
Image caption Virginia (left) was subjected to the abuse. Her daughter Hannah now campaigns against FGM

The number of women reporting instances of female genital mutilation (FGM) is on the rise, according to West Midlands Police.

The referrals rate, which stood at 41 in 2013, has more than doubled in 2014 to 118.

West Midlands Police said the rise was down to an increase in women coming forward, rather than an increase in the practice.

Campaigners said the figures were "heartening".

'Courageous women'

The practice is cultural rather than religious and has no health benefits.

Police said they were working to raise awareness of FGM among communities and professionals.

"This will not be tolerated in this country - it is illegal," said Det Con Gillian Squires from West Midlands Police.

"It's important for us to protect children from this and stop it happening in the first place."

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Media captionPolice are working within communities to raise awareness of FGM

Virginia, who now lives in the West Midlands, was adopted by an aunt in South Africa as a child.

At the age of eight, she says she was subjected to regular, repeated abuse.

"It did hurt and it was very degrading," she said.

"It was systematic and there would be times when I wasn't given any food because I refused to open my legs."

Her 12-year-old daughter Hannah now campaigns for FGM to be discussed in schools.

FGM referrals

2012 - 25 referrals

2013 - 41 referrals

2014 - (to November) 118 referrals.

Prior to this, the figures were in single numbers.

Source: West Midlands Police

Fadel Takrouri, chairman of the British Arab Foundation, which has campaigned against FGM, said heightened publicity had led to the rise in reports.

"It's not the practice that's increasing - it's the reporting," he said.

"It's because of the courageous decision of women to speak out at great risk to themselves."

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