By conservative estimates, 66,000 women and girls living in Britain have been mutilated. This figure, accepted by the Metropolitan Police, came in a report by a volunteer organisation funded by the Department of Health and carried out with academics from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and the City University.
And thousands more girls are at imminent risk as families club together to fly professional "cutters" from Africa to Britain. These women "elders" perform the crude operation for up to £40 a time, often on kitchen tables or floors, without anaesthetic, using filthy, blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels. […]
[G]enital mutilation is a reality, and the Metropolitan police is so concerned that it recently set up a special unit to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Heading the unit is Detective Inspector Carol Hamilton, […]
We found that at least one London council declined to publish material highlighting the suffering and danger the practice causes - for fear of offending ethnic African residents. […] Together with the Waris Dirie Foundation, an international campaign group formed by the Somali-born supermodel who suffered genital mutilation as a five-year-old child, the Met announced a £20,000 reward last July for information leading to the conviction of anyone who performs or abets cutting.
Under the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act, those involved could be jailed for 14 years. Yet the fact that no one has been prosecuted says much about the problems the police are facing. "There are thousands of girls being cut in your country," says Waris Dirie spokesman Walter Hutschinger. "We are sure it's going on, and on a very big scale. Your law is one of the most comprehensive in the world, but it is useless if nobody will help to implement it. […]
"I met one group of Somalis and got the message that cutting was even stronger here than in Somalia," [Detective Inspector Hamilton] says. "Here, it seems, they feel the need to keep their traditions going. [...]
In this age of political correctness, no doubt, factions in Britain will argue that such interventionist activity is discriminatory and a breach of human rights. There will also be those who believe female genital mutilation to be an issue for the African community to resolve, arguing that our overstretched police and health professionals have more pressing matters to address.
Detective Inspector Hamilton was persuaded otherwise when she sat through a graphic video showing a cutter at work. With its haunting screams and bloodied instruments, this real-life horror film changed her life. "These little girls shouldn't have to live in that other world," she says. "They go to school here. Their homes and friends are here. They are our little girls. They are British. What is happening to them is barbaric – and it must be stopped."