Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sometimes referred to as cutting, female circumcision or sunna, is a painful and illegal process that involves cutting and removing a girl's external genitalia. FGM is practiced in areas of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, as well as in countries where migrants from FGM affected communities live, including the UK.
Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse. It’s dangerous and a criminal offence.
There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn’t enhance fertility and it doesn’t make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.
FGM can have a lasting impact on a young girl. Initially, it will cause physical issues such as intense pain, bleeding and can result in infection. Months and years later, it can still impact physically with problems going to the toilet, difficulty having sex or giving birth. There are the emotional and mental affects, for example, depression, anxiety and loss of confidence.
All types of FGM have been illegal in the UK since the 1985. The new Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act 2003 updates and extends the original act. It is now ‘an offence to take UK nationals and those with permanent UK residency overseas for the purpose of circumcision, to aid and abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of Female Genital Mutilation (all types of circumcision). It is illegal for anyone to circumcise women or children for cultural or non-medical reason’.
FGM is a serious criminal offence in the UK with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison for anyone found guilty. Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from the risk of FGM faces up to 7 years in prison, a fine, or both.
There can be a lot of pressure from families and the wider community to undergo FGM. If you believe someone is arranging for a child to have it done, either in the UK or abroad:
- Call the police on 999
- Call the NSPCC 24/7 Helpline on 0800 028 3550
- Call First Contact at Slough Children's Trust on 01753 875362
Find out more about FGM:
See the Government's Multi-agency statutory guidance.
The Mix- essential support for under 25s
FGM - Everybody's Business