EFFORTS are being increased to raise awareness, investigate concerns and secure prosecutions concerning female genital mutilation in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire County Councillors voted unanimously to monitor injuries suffered by victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), and to determine what steps are being taken to stop the practice from happening to children in the county.

The council heard on Wednesday, March 19, that the number of women and girls living with FGM in the UK is likely to be around 170,000, almost three times the existing official figures.

It is believed that 65,000 girls aged 13 and under are at risk of mutilation in this country.

In spite of the UK law in 1985 banning what was then termed ‘female circumcision’ there has not been a single successful prosecution in the country.

A multi-agency approach to FGM is being taken, involving education, health and local authorities, the police and the crown prosecution service coming together to share data and raise awareness.

Doctors and nurses are now to be told to log details of injuries suffered by victims of FGM.

By September all acute hospitals will have to report this data to the Department of Health on a monthly basis.

These figures will also be monitored and evaluated in order to see how big a problem these crimes really are in Gloucestershire.

Cllr Colin Hay (Lib De) said FGM was child abuse and should be tackled as such.

Cllr Dorcus Binns (Con) said: “Like every form of child abuse, this council will do everything in its power not just to stamp it out, but to see those who commit or facilitate it sent to prison for as long as possible.

“Whether child abuse is based on someone’s negligence, someone’s perverted desires, or someone’s backward cultural beliefs makes no difference to me and it makes no difference to this council. There is zero tolerance for it.”