New FGM victims seen by NHS in Sussex Brighton News

NEW female genital mutilation victims were seen by NHS services in Sussex last year, figures show.

The National Center for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has warned that the risk to children and young people may have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, with school closings reducing contact with teachers and health professionals.

Around 20 new victims were seen by health services in Brighton, Hove and West Sussex between January and March, according to figures from NHS Digital.

In Brighton and Hove, all victims saw their injuries recorded by the NHS for the first time, while there were five new victims identified the previous year.

NHS Digital data shows that in the year through March, around 20 FGM survivors attended appointments with medical professionals in West Sussex.

About 15 of them had their injuries recorded by the NHS for the first time, with the number of new cases largely in line with the previous year.

Since registration began in 2015, health services have identified around 105 victims of FGM in the region.

Only approximate numbers are recorded in the data, in order to avoid the identification of individual women.

NHS services in East Sussex, however, saw fewer FGM victims last year.

But there could be more, with experts saying the already “extremely hidden” form of child abuse could go even more unnoticed nationwide due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Women and girls who have undergone FGM have had their genitals deliberately cut, injured or altered for non-medical reasons – most undergo these procedures as children.

The practice, traditional in some cultures, has been illegal in the UK since 1985, with the law enforced in 2003 to prevent girls from receiving treatment abroad.

Since registration began, NHS trusts and GP practices across England have identified more than 27,000 women and girls who have undergone FGM.

But in the year through March, attendance at FGM-related dating at NHS dates nationwide fell to around 10,600, from more than 12,000 the year before.

NHS Digital statisticians said it was not clear whether the change was due to a reduction in the number of women and girls seen during the pandemic or a reduction in the ability of NHS services to report all attendance linked to FGM during this period.

However, Leethen Bartholomew of the National FGM Center – a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association – said it was not surprising to see a decrease in the number of reported cases since coronavirus measures took place across the country.

He said: “It doesn’t mean that there are fewer survivors who need this support.

“Closures, school closures and diminished interactions with health, social service and other professionals have left many survivors going unnoticed and not receiving the support we know they have. need.

“FGM is an extremely hidden form of child abuse and there are undoubtedly women and girls who suffer in silence. ”

Mr Bartholomew added: “As society returns to normal after a successful nationwide vaccination campaign and the easing of restrictions, I am sure we will see these numbers rise again.

“When they do, health, social and educational professionals must have access to the time and resources they need to ensure that survivors receive the appropriate help to overcome their physical and mental trauma.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-06 05:00:00

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