A total of 578 girls were treated for female genital mutilation in England in March in what campaigners said was just the tip of the iceberg. The latest figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, bring the total of identified cases to 3,963 since data began to be collected on FGM in September. Sixty of the newly identified cases reported involved under-18s.
Tackling FGM has risen up the political agenda since last year, after high-profile campaigns gained public support. A Guardian petition saw the Department for Education write to schools about the dangers of FGM, while steps have been taken by the Department of Health and the Home Office to ensure cases are recorded and victims are better supported.
"Not surprisingly, as more FGM survivors access healthcare, we see a continued increase in the official figures," Mary Wandia, FGM programme manager at Equality Now, said. "However, this number is still only the tip of the iceberg. Last year, we estimated that 137,000 women and girls live in England and Wales who have been affected by FGM. We will continue to see significant month-on-month increases as more women and girls affected by FGM access healthcare. Every month, we are getting a clearer picture of the sheer scale of the issue."