A leading safeguarding company, which works across all industries to find a creative and compassionate solution to those working with children and vulnerable adults says an NHS study out this week is just the tip of the iceberg in the campaign to seek out practitioners of Female Genital Mutilation.

The Athena Programme, spearheaded by safeguarding expert Sarah Carlick, spoke out after the study revealed that 1,000 new cases of FGM were recorded in England between April and June this year.

It’s not known whether they were detected in the UK or abroad but the figures stem from information collected from GP surgeries and mental health trusts.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre’s figures revealed that nine cases were girls who were under 18 when first seen. Some were brought to light by the girls themselves or doctors after examinations.

FGM is illegal across the UK and it is illegal to take someone abroad for this purpose.

Sometimes called female circumcision, FGM refers to procedures including the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It can cause issues including severe pain, infections, pregnancy complications and even death.

Earlier this year the government made it an illegal offence to withhold information if a case of FGM was detected and it now has plans to make data collection mandatory across many areas of the NHS.

The Athena Programme thinks this is still the tip of the iceberg and hope that as time goes on victims will speak up more and more for themselves and doctors will know what to look for so that cases can be reported straight away.  Sarah Carlick said:

“We were delighted when this new mandatory reporting came into play as it meant children and adults at risk suddenly had a voice and no longer had to suffer in silence.

We hope to do all we can to support those groups with affected children and young people in their care who are now under pressure to fulfil what is now a legal obligation, so that we can eventually stamp out this cruel tradition.

We will also do all we can to fill the gap in training for multi-agency professionals to recognise, report and refer cases and I hope that the necessary funding for learning materials will be provided to support this welcomed change to practice.”

For further information on the work that The Athena Programme carries out or to discuss the FGM issue, contact them at www.theathenaprogramme.co.uk