Thousands of women in the borough have been a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM), according to figures.

Statistics by Enfield council reveal that up to 3,500 women were affected by the practice and an estimated 2,800 girls are at risk of it.

FGM has been illegal in the UK for 30 years but in some cultures it is still practised and the local authority is calling for the issue to be tackled head on.

Clinics are being set up in the borough’s local hospitals where women can receive medical care and support.

Trained health and social care staff meet communities affected by FGM and awareness has been raised among school staff who can assist any affected pupils and recommend support.

Councillor Nneka Keazor, cabinet member for public health, said: “The City University study confirms our own analysis of the scale of FGM in the borough and reminds us why measures are being put in place to tackle it and provide support to survivors.

“However, it is a difficult issue to tackle since it involves cultural traditions and inevitably some secrecy because it is illegal. Our information is therefore estimated based on population movements and census records. We need help in detecting it.

“We therefore welcome the new strengthened law announced last week introducing FGM protection orders for women and girls at risk. Now, it is not only illegal for any girl or woman to be subjected to FGM in this country; but it is also illegal to take them abroad for the purposes of FGM.

“It is an unnecessary, painful and dangerous procedure,” she continued, “often performed on girls from the ages of five to 15".

Leading campaigner and FGM survivor, Alimatu Dimonekene, who spoke at an FGM conference in Enfield earlier this year, said: “I do not want any girl to have to go through this torture. It is an assault on young girls removing parts of their genitals and subjecting them to a lifetime of discomfort, pain and infections. The mood is right for us to really do something about it.”

Cllr Keazor said: “FGM must be confronted. It affects childbirth, can cause permanent discomfort, infections and in some cases children and women die.”