London Police Launches Campaign To Eradicate Female Genital Cutting

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Female Genital Cutting

London's Metropolitan Policeon Wednesday launched a campaign that aims to eradicate female genitalcutting in the United Kingdom by highlighting the practice as a crime,the AP/ABC Newsreports. Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Jeffrey said thepolice is offering a $40,000 reward for information that leads to thecountry's first prosecution for the practice (Doran, AP/ABC News, 7/11).


Femalegenital cutting -- sometimes referred to as female circumcision orfemale genital mutilation -- is a practice in which there is a partialor full removal of the labia, clitoris or both. About 6,000 girlsundergo the practice daily worldwide, and the World Health Organizationestimates that 100 million to 140 million women worldwide arecircumcised. At least 90% of women who undergo genital cutting live indeveloping countries -- such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone,Somalia and Sudan -- while almost no women undergo the practice inIran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to UNICEF (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/2).

A2003 U.K. law bans conducting the procedure in the country or abroad,punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but there have been noprosecutions under the measure, Jeffrey said (AP/ABC News,7/11). The reward will be given to anyone who provides information thatleads to a successful prosecution under either the 2003 Female GenitalMutilation Act or the 1985 Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act,which also bans the procedure, London's Guardian reports.

According to U.K. Department of Healthfigures expected to be released this fall, an estimated 66,000 girlsand women in England and Wales have undergone genital cutting. Theestimate was extrapolated from a 2001 census by the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development, a group campaigning against the procedure, according to the Guardian.Maureen Salmon of the foundation said the total likely is anunderestimate because of an influx of refugees to the United Kingdomfrom countries with civil wars, including Sierra Leone, Somalia andSudan (Pidd, Guardian, 7/11).

"The timing of thiscampaign is for one good reason: so we can get in before the summerholidays, a time when young girls are taken abroad and subjected togenital mutilation," Jeffrey said (AP/ABC News, 7/11)."This is child abuse," Jeffrey said, adding that the campaign "is notan attack on anyone's culture, it is an attack on anyone who commitsthis horrendous abuse of children" (BBC News, 7/11).

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