Hundreds of British schoolgirls are facing the horrifying prospect of female genital mutilation (FGM) over the Christmas holidays, as experts warn that the practice still exists across the country.
The practice is common in 28 African countries, including Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria, as well as some Middle Eastern and Asian countries such as Malaysia and Yemen, where it is generally considered to be an essential rite of passage to suppress sexual pleasure, preserve girls' purity and cleanliness, and is necessary for marriage in many communities even now.
Commonly parents take their daughters back to their country of origin for FGM during school holidays, but this time around "cutters" are being flown to the UK to carry out the mutilation at "parties" involving up to 20 girls to save money.
Meanwhile, the UK police have been facing growing criticism for failing to prosecute a single person for carrying out FGM in the past 25 years, as new legislation from 2003 prohibits taking a girl overseas for FGM.
Despite all the efforts to stop the act, police and law has failed to secure a conviction.
Experts say that the lack of convictions, combined with the Government's failure to invest enough money in education and prevention strategies, mean the practice continues to thrive, The Independent reported.
According to a research by the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development, knowledge of the health risks and of the legislation remains patchy among practising communities, while beliefs about the supposed benefits for girls remain firm.
As a result, specialist doctors and midwives are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of women suffering from long-term health problems, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Campaigners are urging ministers to take co-ordinated steps to work with communities here and overseas to change deep-seated cultural attitudes and stamp out this extreme form of violence against women.