Midwives in the UK may be asked to raise the subject of FGM with women from communities who practice it. The Department of Health (DoH) said that the NHS “plays a key role in identifying and supporting anyone affected by FGM”.
A DoH spokesperson further added: “Health professionals should always take action when they believe a child or young person has been assaulted in any way, to protect them and others from further harm.”
This could be an important step in addressing the issue, as health professionals often avoid broaching the subject. This avoidance partly explains the lack of prosecutions in the UK, as opposed to France, where health practitioners and social services see it as their duty to ask questions.
Prosecutions in France are based on evidence from medical examinations, which bypasses the often-cited obstacle of lack of evidence and testimony of victims whose own families have participated in the crime. Health professionals also play a role in ensuring that the health-related effects of FGM are properly treated.