Female genital mutilation a growing problem in Britain

London police launch campaign to stamp it out.

Topics: Broadsheet, Violence Against Women, Female Mutilation, Health, Love and Sex,

According to reports by the AP and CNN (see warning below before clicking on the latter!) the practice of female genital mutilation has traveled to Britain via first-generation immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. London’s police force today launched a campaign to make clear the practice is considered a crime, with the ultimate goal of preventing it entirely.

They’ve got a way to go, it seems. One midwife told reporters she treats up to 500 mutilation victims a year. Under a 2003 ban, carrying out the procedure — or arranging for it to take place, in Britain or even abroad — is a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison. But no one to date has been prosecuted. For starters, police are now offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to a first prosecution for the crime.

Officials chose summer to launch the campaign because they believe “the number of genital mutilation cases peaks in the summer, [when] the extended school vacation gives girls more time to recover — thereby making it easier for those responsible to cover up their actions.” That’s “recover” only in the most superficial sense, by the way. According to the AP, hundreds of girls worldwide also die.

Now about that CNN video. It does say “Viewer Discretion Advised.” But I was thoroughly unprepared for the immediately opening images of an 8-year-old girl about to undergo the procedure; I figured I’d get some sort of warning about when I should fast-forward or mute. I honestly wish I’d never seen it. You, however, have been warned. Let us hope, at least, that the video contributes to raising awareness about a tragedy that persists, as it turns out, not as many continents away as we might think.

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>