A SHOCKING number of new cases of female genital mutilation have been reported across the Southampton region, figures show.

NHS Digital have revealed that 25 new cases have been reported in the area in 2015/16.

Researchers from children’s charities have not revealed the age that females suffer the cutting but most are believed to be under 18 years old.

Eastleigh MP Mims Davies said: “I am keen to see this practice eradicated both in the UK and across the globe and believe that the Government is taking seriously both the need to raise awareness about FGM and to make sure that those responsible are brought to justice.

“I have heard of some concerning issues in my constituency surgeries in supporting those more vulnerable in our society, there is never any justification for female genital mutilation and I believe that the law applies to everyone, and especially so in instances of violence against women."

Of the figures, 15 cases were self-reported and five were disclosed after examination by a doctor at GPs surgeries across Southampton. Half of those reporting the FGM were aged 30-34.

John Cameron, head of child protection at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said the increased disclosure was encouraging” and reflected more awareness.

He added: “We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that female genital mutilation (FGM) is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about it, to speak out and get help.

“Some families who subject their children to FGM may do so because of cultural norms or that they believe it will help their child improve their life.

“For far too long female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended.”

UK-wide NHS statistics show more than 8,256 new cases were reported in 2015/16.

Claire Chatwin, managing director of the Southern Domestic Abuse Service, which provides services to women who are experiencing domestic abuse, has described FGM as an emerging issue and that community groups affected by FGM are now more willing to discuss with the NHS and police.

She said: “In the last three years, we have seen more communities that are willing to come forward and engage with us regarding this particular issue.

“People from a wide range of nations are affected by FGM.

“Women from seemingly happy and positive families are also affected by FGM – because their cultural and heritage traditions demand it.”

Despite widespread reporting there has never been a successful prosecution for FGM in the UK, a fact that has been branded a “national scandal” by politicians and the Home Affairs select committee. It follows Hampshire Constabulary’s campaign to raise awareness of FGM and domestic abuse, Speak Out Today, which encourage any victims, abusers, friends and family to come forward and report it.

FGM has been illegal in the UK for over 30 years, however since 2003 it has also been illegal for UK citizens to take their child abroad to have FGM – which has been a cause for concern amongst Southampton residents.