Specialised female genital mutilation clinics are to be opened across England and are expected to support hundreds of survivors.
Health officials said the eight “one stop shop’s” will be staffed by specialist doctors, midwives, nurses and counsellors, and could benefit more than 1,300 people over the age of 18.
FGM is not normally identified in the UK until women are pregnant. According to National Health Service England, over the last three months nearly 1,000 women and girls were found to have been affected by “this most severe form of abuse and violence.”
Included will be education on the medical and psychological impact of FGM and also the legal implications. It is hoped the walk-in clinics will allow women to be able to speak openly about their FGM experiences and look at treatment options.
“It’s absolutely crucial we reach more women so they can access support services that take care of mental, emotional, physical and clinical needs,” said health minister Matt Hancock.
He said the clinics would support women “who have been violated in the most traumatic of ways to move on from this violence and lead happier, healthier lives”.
The clinics, which will work with local community groups, are expected to prioritise support and treatment for women between the ages of 18 and 25, before they fall pregnant.
“We’ve listened closely to survivors and their advocates and designed these brand new services with them, meaning that these clinics, and the highly-trained staff who will work in it, represents a real step-change in the quality and timeliness of support the NHS provides,” said Hilary Garratt, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England.
“Survivors of FGM deserve to be heard and supported – and that is exactly what the NHS is working with them and others to achieve. Not only are we supporting individual women, but the impact this has on their families, communities and of equal importance, the next generation.”