Nurses and midwives are today being asked to take part in a new government study into female genital mutilation.
The controversial practice, also known as female genital cutting, can cause long-term physical and mental health problems, difficulty in giving birth, infertility and death.
It is hoped that the study – open to all healthcare professionals working in maternity, obstetrics, gynaecology and sexual health - will increase the government’s knowledge about women and girls affected by female genital mutilation.
It will also investigate how the training needs of key health professionals can be improved, and provide vital information for the development of appropriate sexual and reproductive health services.
Although it is illegal in the UK, England’s chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley said that up to 24,000 young girls in the UK are at risk of female genital mutilation.
‘We have put training in place to support frontline healthcare staff in responding where they see or hear of this practice taking place,’ she said.
‘By taking part in this research, nurses will be helping to ensure that the training available to them in this difficult area is refined and improved. I urge all nurses to log on and take part in this research,’ she added.
The findings of the study, which will run until 8 October 2009, will be used to inform the forthcoming cross-government strategy on tackling violence against women and girls.
To take part online click here and enter the password fgmsurvey