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The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, held annually on 6 February, aims to raise awareness of the practice and work towards the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM). The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes FGM as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. Eliminating FGM is a target within goal five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The World Health Assembly and the United Nations have both adopted resolutions to tackle FGM. In July 2014, the UK and UNICEF co-hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end FGM within a generation. Professor Alison Macfarlane et al from City, University of London estimated there were 137,000 women and girls with FGM (born in countries where FGM is practised) permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011. FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 (later replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (2003 Act)). In October 2017, in response to a written question on the number of prosecutions, the Government confirmed that there still “has been only one prosecution for FGM under the 2003 Act”.

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