I pay tribute to the right hon. Lady for her tireless campaigning on this extremely serious issue.
The Government are committed to developing a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation. Legislation alone cannot eliminate the practice, so our resources will be aimed at raising awareness of the law on female genital mutilation, and of the health implications, among communities and front-line practitioners.
I thank the Minister for her answer, but it was not satisfactory. Since 2003, when my private Member’s Bill tightening legislation on the issue was passed, there have been no prosecutions, although according to health professionals and the police, the practice is increasing in this country. Events such as FGM cutting parties are taking place here. This is a crime against women. When will the Government catch the criminals?
I agree with the right hon. Lady—although I should point out that we came to office only recently, and that 2003 was seven years ago—and I have pursued the question of why no prosecutions have taken place since the passing of the Act in 2003.
There has been a fair amount of progress. A good many investigations are taking place, and each year there is an increase in the number of investigations. There are various reasons for the fact that no cases have proceeded to the courts. I have no doubt that if a case were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, the CPS would proceed with it; however, some victims and their families state that the female genital mutilation was carried out before the victims came to the United Kingdom, and some victims are too young to give evidence. Problems may also be caused by diplomatic immunity and community barriers. Although female genital mutilation was banned in Egypt two years ago, nine out of 10 women and children are still being subjected to it. It is on awareness that our resources must be concentrated, but I agree that we should pursue the question of why there have been no prosecutions.