PARENTS who allow ‘female circumcision’ to happen to their daughters will face prosecution under new measures.

A crackdown on female genital mutilation, known as FGM, has been welcomed by the Lancashire Telegraph’s health expert Dr Tom Smith.

Lancashire Police has also encouraged any victims to come forward and seek help.

Dr Smith said he had been campaigning against the issue since he encountered a badly mutilated woman in the 1960s.

The cultural practice sees removal of at least the clitoris in a bid to encourage virginity and fidelity.

Yesterday, David Cameron unveiled a £1.4million prevention programme aimed at ending the practice. It is estimated that up to 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales could have undergone FGM.

As well as prosecution of parents, new measures may involve lifelong anonymity for victims, similar to those who are victims of sex crimes. British girls are sometimes taken abroad for the procedure.

Dr Smith said he hoped more could be done to prevent it and added: “It is the most awful and terrible thing to do to a woman.

“I have seen incidents of removal of the clitoris. It’s done by women to other women and the vagina is even sewn up in some cases.

“I have been campaigning against it for many years since 35 years ago when I saw a woman in a dreadful state. She told me they had done it when she was just nine in Africa. She was pregnant but we had to book a C-section as she could never give birth safely.”

Detective Supt Sue Cawley, head of public protection for Lancashire Police said: “We would encourage people to come forward and report any allegations of FGM safe in the knowledge that they will be treated sensitively and professionally.

“Any reports will be thoroughly investigated.”