LONDON, July 23 (UPI) -- British officials say they're cracking down on families that send young girls out of the country to undergo what they call genital mutilation.
The government has sent prosecutors new guidelines to aid in prosecution of those who would have their female children's genitals surgically altered, The Guardian reported.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 allows for the prosecution of British citizens who breach the provisions of the act and perform the procedure abroad, often in Africa or the Middle East. While the law appears strict on paper, it appears to have limited practical effect, the report said.
The British government has investigated more than 100 claims of genital mutilation over the past two years, but there were no convictions. In comparison, French authorities have successfully prosecuted 100 cases.
The practice is barbaric, said Jane Ellison, Tory member of Parliament, who wants the issue taken more seriously.
Ellison called the procedure "a brutal crime perpetrated against those who are least able to protect themselves: little girls and young women."
"In every case, the health of the girl or woman is damaged, often irreparably," Ellison said. "What is most shocking of all is that a great many of these criminal acts are perpetrated against girls aged 10 and under, right down to infants."