History of a kind was made last week. A doctor appeared before a medical malpractice tribunal in Manchester accused of performing surgery to mutilate the genitals of female babies or young girls.

This is the nearest that Britain has ever come to a trial for an abhorrent, age-old custom, still common in some African and Asian countries, which is believed to threaten up to 50,000 girls of immigrant backgrounds in the UK.

British campaigners against the practice often point admiringly to the more repressive approach adopted in France.

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