The numbers of women with female genital mutilation living in England and Wales are likely to have increased from 2001 to 2011, according to new estimates in a report from City University London in collaboration with Equality Now.

The study published information from surveys in 29 countries in which FGM is practised with information from the 2011 census about women who had migrated from those countries. It estimated that about 103,000 women aged 15-49 who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM. In addition, about 10,000 girls aged under 15 and 24,000 women over 50, who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM.  Combining the figures for the three age groups, an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM, born in countries where FGM is practised, were permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011. 

It also combined the survey data with birth data from the Office for National Statistics and estimated that about 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM.

These estimates come from an interim report of the study which was funded by the Trust for London and the Home Office. Further work will derive estimates for local areas to enable professionals to plan services to support affected women and safeguard their daughters. Census data show that numbers of women born in the countries in the Horn of Africa, where FGM is almost universal and where the most severe Type III form, infibulation, is commonly practised increased by 34,000 from 22,000 in 2001 to 56,000 in 2011. The numbers of women from countries in East and West Africa, where FGM Types I and II, clitoridectomy with or without excision of the labia minora, are very common, also increased by 10,000 over the same period.

Efua Dorkenoo OBE, Senior FGM Advisor to Equality Now, said: Professionals are crying out for clear cut guidance on referral pathways on early identification of girls potentially at risk and prevention; and protocols for documenting and sharing information on FGM between health, children's social care, education and the police.

There is no time to waste on platitudes as thousands of girls living in England and Wales are having their life blighted by this damaging practice”.