Up to 100,000 schoolgirls are at risk of sexual ­mutilation that causes permanent physical and emotional damage. Many are taken abroad but ­others are secretively maimed in Britain as part of a shocking cultural practice that is condoned by the ­victims' families.

Until now little has been done to prevent this horrific custom. Female genital mutilation has been a criminal offence for 30 years but there has never been a prosecution.

Last week that began to change. In the first of a series of top-level meetings in London, a group of ­senior police, government officials and experts led by director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer began work on tough new measures to crack down on the barbarity.

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