Victims of female genital mutilation seen in Kirklees
More victims of FGM in North Kirklees were seen for the first time by health services last year, figures show.
Experts and campaigners are calling for increased awareness of female genital mutilation warning signs among younger women and girls.
In 2018-19, 10 victims of FGM were seen by health services in the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group area, NHS Digital figures show.
Of those, it is likely that most or all were having their injuries reported to the NHS for the first time.
FGM, where female genitals are removed, cut or injured for non-medical reasons, is illegal in the UK, and people carrying out or assisting with the procedure can be punished by up to 14 years in prison, even if it was abroad.
In North Kirklees, most of the women seen in 2018-19 were over 30.
According to Janet Fyle, FGM policy lead at the Royal College of Midwives, many pregnant women are not treated until they are already in labour. They often require surgery before they can give birth.
Ms Fyle, a Sierra Leonean nurse and midwife, was honoured with an MBE in 2015 for her campaigning against FGM.
She said that the daughters of women with FGM are at serious risk of becoming victims themselves.
She said: “We need to have a much more open dialogue with communities that practice FGM, and think seriously about how we talk to women in those communities.
“The women need to make the link between their health and its relationship to FGM by themselves, and that will make them think – do I want this for my daughter?”
The National FGM Centre, a partnership between children’s charity Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, has raised concerns that doctors and nurses may not recognise the warning signs of FGM.
Leethen Bartholomew, the centre’s head, said: “Health professionals are taught to routinely ask questions about HIV, and things like that, but that’s not the case with FGM.”