Awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) needs to raised among midwives, a new poll suggests.
It found that a third of midwives in the UK have cared for women who have FGM but that more than a fifth of trusts do not have clinical guidelines for maternity staff on dealing with the issue
It is estimated that 66,000 women in the UK are affected by female genital mutilation, although the survey by the Royal College of Midwives found that exact figures are not available as almost a quarter of NHS trusts do not collect details about such cases.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, expressed concern that midwives do not have the training to deal with FGM. She said while 70% of maternity staff are aware of the UK law around FGM, more than half are unaware of the referral processes when such cases arise.
With an estimate of up to 24,000 girls in the UK at risk from FGM, she said dealing with the issue has become even more pressing.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It worries me greatly that so many UK midwives are seeing cases of FGM, and I am concerned about the scale and extent of it in this country.
“We must take a zero tolerance line on FGM and do all we can to see it stopped in the UK and elsewhere. It is a violation of a woman’s human rights, and there is a real need to raise awareness about the damage FGM can do to women within the communities that practice it. We must focus on protecting the current generation of girls and young women.”