Two men have been arrested by police investigating claims female genital mutilation is being offered in the UK.
West Midlands Police said a 55-year-old and a 61-year-old were arrested after officers from the force’s public protection unit attended three separate addresses in Birmingham.
Detective Inspector Caroline Marsh said: “We are still in the very early stages of this investigation but I hope this morning’s action sends out a clear message about how seriously we are taking these allegations.”
She added: “We are actively working together with our partner agencies to investigate reports of female genital mutilation (FGM) and raise awareness of the practice amongst both professionals and communities, in order to identify and safeguard potential victims.
“I want to reassure people that we thoroughly investigate all allegations of FGM and I would encourage anyone who may have any information about this illegal practice to contact police.”
The men were arrested on suspicion of offences contrary to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Officers went to properties on Stratford Road, Sparkhill, Trafalgar Road, Moseley and Kingstanding Road, Kingstanding, at around 9am.
Also known as “female circumcision”, FGM can take varying forms and is a long-standing cultural practice in a number of African and Middle Eastern countries. Seen as a rite of passage, it is also traditionally viewed as a health measure, although carries no such benefits, as well as to enhance sexual pleasure for male partners, and prevent infidelity.
FGM is illegal in Britain but campaigners have long feared it is being performed within ethnic communities, alongside the practice of sending young women and children overseas for the procedure.
Aside from the risk of infection, scarring and trauma, women who have the most extreme form may require extensive reconstruction surgery.