A GP who set up a campaign group for female genital mutilation (FGM) victims is demanding urgent action to help identify more victims of the barbaric practice.

Dr Phoebe Abe, from Iver, is on a mission to raise awareness of FGM - a tradition popular in 28 African countries which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia.

Slough has a large African community and the former Langley Health Centre GP believes a lack of knowledge in the health profession about the illegal practice means scores of victims have not been recognised.

Victims are usually cut before they turn 15 years old and girls are regularly taken back to their country of origin during summer holidays to have the procedure done, normally by a woman with no medical training.

It has horrific short-term and long-term health affects - including difficulties passing urine, kidney failure and complications in pregnancy.

Dr Abe has already found eight girls who have been cut at her Yiewsley Family Practice, which she only picked up on because of an expert knowledge of the signs and symptoms.

She said: “These children are British citizens and we need to act now.” She has given lectures to GPs at her practice and in Langley, adding: “I want to teach and indoctrinate the GPs - they must be able to pick up as many cases as they can, as I am doing in my surgery.” It has been estimated there are more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 at risk of FGM in the UK each year, with 66,000 women in the UK living with the consequences of FGM.

Experts say the real figures are much higher and one of the issues, Dr Abe believes, is a lack of record keeping in hospitals and GP practices. She has recently set up a specific code to identify FGM victims, being used in Langley and Yiewsley.

She added victims do not know where to go for help, are not being referred by GPs and are too scared to come forward.

She set up FGM Association Worldwide (FAW) in March for victims to empower one another, identify FGM-related problems and encourage other woman to come forward.

For more information about the group, visit www.drabefoundation.com THE Observer spoke to an FGM victim who has been empowered by Dr Phoebe Abe to join her campaign group and help encourage other women to speak out.

The woman, who we have called Anne to protect her identity, came to the UK from Somalia 20 years ago as a refugee with her children.

She was cut when she was a girl, but fled to this country to ensure her children did not suffer the same fate.

She said: “It feels like part of you is missing. I don’t want my children to go through what I did. You are told from when you are young girl 'this is your duty’, 'no one will marry you if you don’t have it done’ - you are brainwashed into wanting to have it done, you want to be a big girl. I remember I was crying and actually asking my mum to take me to have it done.” Once in the UK, she refused to take her children back to Africa on holiday to see their grandparents, adding: “I would not take the children back until they were older because while you are asleep they will take your children and do it.” Anne, now approaching 50, has suffered from serious health problems including chronic back pack, incontinence and stabbing period pains. She was misdiagnosed with diabetes and given antibiotics by doctors who failed to understand her problems were caused by FGM.

Her condition worsened and she had kidney failure, resulting in a kidney transplant in 2012. It was then that she met Dr Abe at her practice. “She asked me if I had FGM, it was the first time I’ve ever talked about it.” Anne is now part of Dr Abe’s FGM Association Worldwide (FAW) group, where she meets other victims to raise awareness of the barbaric practice.