UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called on world leaders to pledge to end the horror of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) within a generation in a speech at a global summit in London, reports the BBC.
Mr Cameron told the 'Girl Summit' that the UK could not halt the practice of Female Genital Mutilation on its own, and called on other world leaders to pledge their support to ending the horrific practice.
FGM is the medical term given to a range of procedures that are carried out on babies, young girls and women in many parts of the world including countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The practice is often performed under the auspices of tradition and is considered by those who practice it a cultural norm. However, the practice leaves victims with mutilated genitals, scar tissue, and makes it difficult for them to enjoy normal sexual relations and to bear a child.
In the worst cases, FGM is conducted by untrained practitioners, using barbaric and unhygienic equipment, and exposes victims not only to unbearable pain and lifelong health consequences, but also high risks of contracting dangerous infections.
FGM is illegal in the UK, but the Government has faced criticism as the law has largely proved to be ineffective as British female victims are often sent abroad for the procedure.
The Prime Minister unveiled new measures designed to stop this particular practice, which will see parents held criminally responsible if they fail to stop their child being subjected to FGM.
"It is absolutely clear about what we are trying to achieve," said Mr Cameron.
"It is such a simple but noble and good ambition and that is to outlaw the practices of female genital mutilation, and childhood and early forced marriage, to outlaw them everywhere for everyone within this generation," he added.
The prevalence of FGM varies, but can be as high as 98% in Somalia, and 91% in Egypt. It is estimated that as many as 30m girls are at risk from FGM in the coming years. It is thought that around 137,000 women in the UK have undergone the procedure.