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 practised in many parts of the world. It largely affects people who are from or who are descendants of people from the sub-Saharan region of Africa but it is not exclusive to this region and is not supported by governments there. It is illegal in the UK . There are no references in any religious text to support this practice. There are myths around a girl's marriageability that are carried through generations through the female lines. It 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 pain, bleeding and infection and can lead to more serious problems, hemorrhage and even death. Months and years later, it can cause menstrual difficulties, frequent infections, difficulty having sex and birth complications which women put down to "Being a woman". There are also 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. It is now an offence to take UK nationals and those with permanent UK residency overseas for the purpose of the procedure, to aid and abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of Female Genital Mutilation (all types of circumcision).
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 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
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