Britain launched an initiative dubbed a "health passport" on Monday that is designed to reduce the number of girls subjected to horrific genital mutilations while visiting family overseas.

From today, parents and girls from communities that practise female genital mutilation (FGM) will be able to carry a government statement in their passports spelling out that British residents can face up to 14 years in jail if they arrange for FGM to be carried out abroad.

The government says up to 24,000 girls in Britain are thought to be at risk of FGM, which it calls a "cruel and brutal practice".  It believes many girls are taken overseas to have the procedure done – often during the long summer holidays.

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