Police and prosecutors are reviewing hundreds of historic cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in a bid to bring the first prosecution in Britain since the practice was ruled illegal in 1985. Legal experts are already examining six cases referred by police, and scores more are also being considered. Tens of thousands of women and girls in the UK are believed to have been subjected to the horrifying ordeal, which is also known as "cutting", in which the genitals of women and girls are severed by unqualified people in the belief that it will preserve the victim's virginity. It can result in infections, infertility and, in extreme cases, death.

The move follows widespread concern that UK authorities were failing to address the scandal adequately. In January, The Independent on Sunday revealed, officials were looking for alternatives after failing to bring a single prosecution in more than 25 years – while more than 100 parents and FGM "practitioners" have been convicted in France since 1988.

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