OXFORD is a high risk area for the illegal cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), a campaigner has warned.
The Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner is among those to raise concerns about what is being done to tackle the crime – also known as female circumcision.
Anthony Stansfeld has called for hospitals to report any cases they see, as there have been no prosecutions for the practice in the county since it was made illegal more than 10 years ago.
It comes as Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust revealed it saw five cases in its hospitals last year.
Campaigner and Faringdon resident Abigal Muchecheti wrote a book about the practice – referred to as FGM – called Married to a Devil.
Campaigner Abigal Muchecheti
The 37-year-old Zimbabwe-born campaigner said Oxford was a “high risk” area as many people from FGM-practising cultures lived in the city.
And she said more needed to be done to raise awareness about the issue and get victims to report it.
She said: “It is considered normal but it is really horrific and unnecessary. It does not add any value to anyone’s life. It is child abuse.
“It is not something we want in the 21st century. It has to stop.”
Campaign group Forward said the practice was usually done when victims were under the age of 12 within African, Middle Eastern and some Asian cultures.
Spokeswoman Rukayah Sarumi said it caused long-term pain as well as health and sexual problems throughout life.
She also said it was often done to victims without their consent or understanding, adding: “We believe there has to be increased awareness of FGM across the board nationwide.”
The hospitals trust said it saw five women with the condition last year but no children.
None of them were referred to police or local authorities.
It said necessary staff were trained to deal with FGM, but detecting cases relied on women being directly asked during pregnancy.
It also said it had been in touch with other centres in the UK to determine the best step forward in attempting to collect data.
Mr Stansfeld said hospital staff should automatically be reporting any cases to police, adding that he believed numbers would be a lot higher if every case was reported.
He said: “I think we would be to naive to assume that it is not happening within the Thames Valley.
“But it is very difficult for the police.
“Unless it is reported they will never know about it.”