THE horror of female genital mutilation and other grotesque forms of abuse against children is happening in Hammersmith and Fulham and throughout London, according to a Shepherd's Bush charity.
The Masbro Centre-based Wilde Foundation, co-founded by W12-based journalist Jinga Ashanti, runs the Protect a Girl Child project and held a seminar at the Lyric Theatre last week to raise awareness of the distressing practice, which is particularly rife in Somali communities.
Other abuses can also include forced marriages and other degrading practices such as breast ironing.
Despite FGM being illegal here, Ms Ashanti warns some of the borough's 2,000-strong Somali community are paying foreign doctors to carry out the abuse, which often leads to deep-seated psychological problems.
"We don't know how many exactly, but it is definitely going on," she said. "It is illegal, but girls are taken to doctors in the Middle East, often before they have even started school.
"It is not their mothers but often the grandmothers who are behind it. In the holidays they say they will take the children to see an aunt or another relative and get the procedure done without the mothers knowing anything about it."
Despite 148 Metropolitan police investigations into the practice in the past three years, no prosecutions have been made.
More girls are thought to be in danger of FGM in Britain than other European countries. Nearly 66,000 people in Britain have been victims of the practice, while a further 30,000 are at risk, say experts. The Government has pledged £35m reduce FGM by a third in five years, and to end it within a generation, but Ms Ashanti warns it won't be easy.
"It is a delicate situation (for charities) because often the communities think we are trying to impinge on their culture. But we are not - this is about education, trying to raise people's standard of living and stopping abuse. No girls should have to go through this."
Ms Ashanti started the charity 13 years ago after writing a feature for the BBC on domestic abuse. It has grown into an international presence, fundraising and reaching out to foreign communities to help victims of abuse.
Breast ironing, the practice of holding down prepubescent girls' chests with hot stones to stop their development, is still rife, as are forced and honour marriages.
"We recently spoke to a British girl married to an Afghan who suggested their two-year-old marry his 23-year-old cousin but who would not have to be with him until her first period," said Ms Ashanti. "She ran for her life. Stuff like this is not uncommon."