Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis today launched a hard-hitting campaign to tackle the global scandal of female genital mutilation (FGM).

With backing from other key campaigners, she unveiled a ground-breaking three-point charter of measures to eradicate the horror of young girls having their outer sexual parts cut away – all to satisfy a misplaced sense of tradition and cultural identity.

Launched to coincide with International Women’s Day tomorrow (Saturday), the demands comprise:

* A more robust approach to bringing adults behind FGM to justice.

* Better international recording and reporting of FGM to reveal the true scale of the scandal.

* International “aid conditionality” – to use development funding as a moral lever on countries where FGM is allowed or even condoned.

It is the first time leading campaigners against FGM have come together behind a short and direct set of demands to put before international public administrators, politicians and policy-makers.

Mrs Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, says mutilation is a form of child abuse, pure and simple, and must be treated as such.  It has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985, yet there has not yet been a single prosecution.

As a member of the European Parliament’s Gender Equality Committee, Mrs Yannakoudakis has been at the forefront of efforts to galvanise EU-wide action against FGM. Last month she held the European Parliament’s first high-profile hearing on FGM, pulling together experts from across Europe to discuss best approaches to measuring and tackling the practice.

She said:  “This is an appalling crime against children – one that is veiled in superstition and secrecy and hidden from public view. It happens to young girls who in many ways are at the margins of society, often isolated by a closed culture and lack of integration.

“I believe misplaced sensitivities over religion, race and heritage are behind that fact that in Britain there has been not one prosecution. If this appalling abuse were happening on such a scale to young, white, middle class girls I believe there would be no shortage of court cases or convictions.”

“That is why we have this simple 3-point approach:  Let’s gather proper data and make sure all cases get reported and recorded. Let’s make sure those responsible for FGM are brought to justice both in the UK and abroad. And finally – let’s not send unconditional aid to countries where this barbaric practice still prevails.”

The manifesto has been endorsed by leading campaigners including Waris Dirie, United Nations Special Ambassador for the Elimination of FGM and founder of the Desert Flower Foundation; Mikael Gustafsson, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Gender Equality Committee; and the editor of the London Evening Standard, Sarah Sands.

It will form the centrepiece of top-level conference on FGM which Mrs Yannakoudakis has organised in London City Hall on March 18.

The event will be chaired by Sarah Sands, whose paper has been determined in exposing the scale of FGM abuse in London and the UK. Speakers will include the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Health Minister Jane Ellison, Efua Dorkenoo of Equality Now, FGM survivor Alimatu Dimonekene and cross-party MEPs.

Mrs Yannakoudakis said:  “For too long this has been a secret suffering and a hidden scandal. Broader society has been kept in the dark or has chosen to look the other way. “This must stop now. Alimatu Dimonekene’s generation must be the last to suffer such violence and inhumanity at the hands of their own kinfolk.”