There can be few more gruesome or horrible crimes than the mutilation of a woman - the tragedy is that this crime is carried out primarily often by parents due to a belief that this is the right thing to do.
The practice is an ethnic marker, rooted in gender inequality, ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics, and attempts to control women's sexuality. It is supported by both women and men in countries that practise it; it is practised as a cultural ritual by groups in 27 countries in sub Saharan Africa and North East Africa, notably Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia, and parts of the Middle East including Yemen and Iraq.
Crucially for us in the UK it is still carried out by some of the immigrant communities living here. We do not know the numbers but it is still happening.
The health effects depend on the procedure but can include recurrent infections, chronic pain, cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth and fatal bleeding.
FGM has long been outlawed in most of the countries in which it occurs, but the laws are poorly enforced. There has been some effort since the 1970s to eradicate the practice but in 2012 the UN voted unanimously to take all necessary steps to end it. This strongly led by the British, and I am very proud of the UK governments role.
My speech on the issue in the House sets out my approach in detail: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2014-03-10a.1.0&s=%28FGM%29+speaker%3A24962#g3.2
I am pleased to say that the Home Affairs Select Committee plan to follow my advice as set out the in the speech. I look forward to the day when this abhorrent crime is no longer happening across the world or even in the UK