more than 2,600 women and girls could be affected by female genital mutilation in Leeds, a new report has found.
The authors of the report, which was launched at a conference in the city, said they were “shocked” at the scale of the problem.
Researchers found between 1,761 and 2,667 women and girls in Leeds had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) or were at risk of it.
But the authors warned numbers could be even higher because they only took into account those from African countries and did not include asylum seekers.
Anj Handa, who co-authored the report with Dr Jean Garrod, said: “We were shocked.
“But the figures we came up with are likely to be conservative.”
The report, prepared for Leeds charity the Black Health Initiative (BHI), found that last year, 154 women who gave birth in the city were reviewed in a specialist FGM clinic.
Those seen at the clinic were mainly from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan and over 80 per cent of women lived in the most deprived areas of Leeds.
Ms Handa said it was vital to gather information about the numbers affected to use as evidence to attract funding to tackle the issue.
The report calls for investment in measures to address FGM, better national leadership and especially more work with local communities.
At Leeds’s first FGM conference, health experts, politicians, and representatives from the police and legal profession discussed the problem and the need for action.
Heather Nelson, chief executive of BHI said: “The conference is the just the beginning, the work starts now.
“We have commitments and pledges from those who attended and BHI, along with partners, intend to ensure these will not be ‘feel good’ gestures but the foundation for future work in the city.
“This report was essential as often when we spoke to those approached to support services for survivors of FGM,the response is ‘where is the evidence?’.
“Dr Jean Garrod worked with Anj Handa tirelessly to produce this report without external funding, which is phenomenal and a testimony to how committed they are in working towards seeing this abuse stopped.”