The failure to punish anyone for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) in almost a decade since Labour introduced a new law designed to stamp out the practice is forcing prosecutors to seek alternative methods to tackle the problem. The Government was facing growing criticism from campaigners after an Independent on Sunday investigation into the horrifying practice known as "cutting", in which the genitals of women and girls are severed by unqualified people in the belief it will preserve the girl's virginity.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told The Independent on Sunday last night that he and Justice Department officials are considering plans to use child-protection legislation to prosecute those who mutilate women, girls and babies. The IoS inquiry revealed that hundreds of hospitals, councils and police forces are failing to enforce the law designed to stop the agonising procedure. Only a few authorities have reported evidence of the illegal practice in the past three years; many admitted they did not even have a policy in place to deal with cases. Three government departments said they do not collect statistics on the prevalence of the problem.
The findings confirm campaigners' fears that laws designed to stamp out FGM are failing to protect tens of thousands of British women and girls every year, and have not led to a single conviction. In contrast, France has convicted more than 100 complicit parents and FGM "practitioners" since 1988.