Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a crime in this country. It is
also a crime to take a British national or permanent resident
abroad for FGM or to help someone trying to do this.
Girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM
can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing
them time to ‘heal’ before they return to school. There are
also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in
FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total
removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to
the female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical
reasons. FGM has serious implications for the sexual and
reproductive health of girls and women.
The effects of FGM depend on a number of factors,
including the type performed, the expertise of the
practitioner, the hygiene conditions under which it is
performed, the amount of resistance and the general health
condition of the girl undergoing the procedure.
Complications may occur in all types of FGM. Immediate
complications include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue, wound infection,
urinary infection, fever, and septicaemia. Haemorrhage and
infection can be severe enough to cause death.
FGM procedures can also cause many psychological
problems as well as problems with giving birth later in life -
including the death of the baby.
There are no health benefits to FGM. Removing and
damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes
with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.
It may be difficult to talk about the issue, but it is important
they tell someone that this has happened to them, or that
they think it may happen to them or someone they know.
FGM is illegal in the UK and is considered a human rights
violation and a form of child abuse. FGM is often performed
on girls between the ages of five and eight. However FGM
can be performed on babies, teenagers, and sometimes
even on adult women. The age differs from community to
60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK.
137,000 girls and women are living with the
consequences of FGM in the UK.
In the UK the FGM Act (2003) makes it illegal to help,
support or arrange for FGM to be performed on a girl either
in the UK or abroad. The offence can be punished by up to
14 years in prison, a fine, or both. Without engagement
with affected communities to abandon FGM, laws alone will
not be enough to end this practice.
Female Genital Mutilation
Information and support
Emotional support for children and young
people on issues relating to child abuse,
020 8661 3904
Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Halo Project Charity
The Halo Project Charity is a national project
that will support victims of honour-based
violence, forced marriages and FGM.
01642 683 045
For women and children against domestic
Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
The Havens Unit Camberwell
Rape and sexual assault referral centre.
020 3299 6900 (24 hour)