UKIP MEP Margot Parker said: "FGM has been illegal in the UK for more than 30 years – including if girls are sent ‘home’ to be mutilated in the name of culture. Despite robust legislation existing to stop this abuse from occurring, there has not been a single conviction in all that time. There is no religious requirement for girls to undergo FGM, so even that flimsiest of excuses is absent. This is entirely about keeping women in their place, asserting power over them and destroying their sexual identities. The practice is abhorrent and is something we should, as a society, make clear is not acceptable under any circumstances and politically correct cultural sensitivities be damned!
"Exact figures of European-resident girls and women who have undergone FGM, or are in danger of having it imposed upon them, are difficult to come by due to the secrecy of the practice and the closed nature of many immigrant communities, but the estimated numbers are staggering – about half a million. The UK is a lot more capable of stating how prevalent this vile practice is in our own country than many European nations. As many as 170,000 women in the UK are thought to be living with the consequences of this barbarism with 65,000 girls under the age of 13 currently at risk.
She continued, "The NHS reports on average 100 new cases every week. This is appalling and, coupled with the total lack of convictions, we are not doing anywhere near enough to sort it out."
Many campaigners believe education is the key to stopping FGM, but Mrs Parker believes this is only part of the solution.
She said: "Education is a passive, long term solution. While it should most certainly be part of the action we take, we need to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who acts to harm a girl or woman in this way, or indeed anyone who acts to make it possible.
"The French have had legislation against FGM for years and right from the start there were successful prosecutions – that we in the UK have yet to see one is completely nonsensical and utterly pathetic.
"We also need to set up better support networks for survivors of this crime as well as make the availability of support and protection for those at risk very clear to everyone who might become a victim of it. If that means taking a more assertive stance with closed immigrant communities, then so be it.
"The message needs to be communicated at schools, mosques, community centres and every other possible venue regardless of concerns about offending someone’s ‘culture’. If that means going door to door with the information to make sure it is received and understood, we should be prepared to do that too."