Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Seven days in medicine: 28 November to 4 December 2018

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 06 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5126

Rapid Response:

Re: Seven days in medicine: 28 November to 4 December 2018- Reported cases of FGM double in England

This week's BMJ carries news that reported cases of FGM in England more than doubled in a year citing findings from the Local Government Association. This report is problematic on two scores. Firstly, we know from previous NHS Digital reports on FGM prevalence in England that the overwhelming number of women and girls living with FGM underwent the procedure prior to coming to the UK. Such data does not necessarily reflect children who have just undergone FGM. In failing to explain the data behind their headline, the BMJ unwittingly contributes to unhelpful sensationalism around FGM- namely, that there is an epidemic of FGM happening on our shores. There is not. Improved reporting of existing cases of FGM does not equate to increased occurrence of FGM.

The second and perhaps more telling issue is that, since the BMJ went to press, the Local Government Association have withdrawn the report from its website. While there is no explanation for this action on the site, it appears that there was a "fundamental error in the official data on which it was based" (Guardian, December 7th 2018).

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 December 2018
Brenda A Kelly
Consultant Obstetrician
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust