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13 August 2019, 10:21 | Updated: 13 August 2019, 10:29
South West FGM survivor urges people to contact NSPCC Helpline as it’s revealed it receives thousands of contacts about the illegal practice.
The NSPCC was contacted nearly 650 times last year about female genital mutilation, according to latest figures.
Contacts to the charity’s dedicated FGM Helpline rose by 36% as figures leapt from 476 contacts in 2017/18, to 645 last year.
Callers worried that girls were about to undergo, or had suffered, the practice included teachers, doctors, relatives, members of the community, and even a small number of people who have been subjected to FGM.
It's a service that south west survivor Salimata, believes is a crucial lifeline to adults worried that a child may be at risk of FGM.
She was taken abroad to be cut at the age of five and only realised she was a victim of the practice in her late teens.
The traumatic event left her feeling angry and alone as she felt she could not speak about the taboo issue.
Now a campaigner, Salimata has stopped FGM in her own family and saved some 50 girls from the harmful effects of the practice – some of which have left her unable to have children.
She says: “My advice to anyone concerned about a child is to contact the NSPCC FGM Helpline.
"Now it’s all about sharing information, empowering the parents who are scared of the social consequences of not getting their daughters cut.”
Since its launch in June 2013, the dedicated line has received 2,747 calls, with almost 1 in 5 concerns (512 contacts) being so serious they were referred to external agencies.
NHS Digital figures for 2018/19 reveal 500 recorded cased of FGM by healthcare providers in the South West of England.
There is no anaesthetic, many young girls bleed and pass out.
It was the old women of the community that performed this ritual, with their old-fashioned views of continuing these ancient practices to preserve tradition.
The rise in contacts to the Helpline could be down to greater awareness, better recognition in spotting the signs, and confidence in voicing concerns, the charity said.
The NSPCC is urging people to speak up if they are worried that a girl is at risk of FGM, as the practice causes long term physical and emotional damage.
The charity also said age-appropriate Relationships and Sex Education would help teach young people that FGM is abuse, know how to speak up before it happens, and know how to report it if they have suffered from the practice.
Since NHS records began in April 2015, 20,440 individual women and girls have been identified as having FGM at some point in their lives.
Anyone worried about someone who has suffered, or is at risk of, FGM can call the NSPCC for free and anonymously on 0800 028 3550 or email email@example.com.