Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is also known as female circumcision or cutting. There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn't enhance fertility and it doesn't make childbirth safer. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths. Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM and it is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and 15 years of age. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health. However, FGM is child abuse. It's dangerous and a criminal offence.

Suspicions may arise in several ways that a child is being prepared for FGM to take place abroad. These include knowing that the family belongs to a community in which FGM is practised and is preparing for the child to take a holiday, arranging vaccinations or planning absence from school. The child may also talk about a 'special procedure/ceremony' that is going to take place. Girls are at particular risk of FGM during summer holidays as this is the time when families may take their children abroad for the procedure. Many girls may not be aware that they may be at risk of undergoing FGM.


The Law

The Female Genital Mutilation Act was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in March 2004. The Act makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and, or, a fine.


Help and Support

If there is an immediate threat to life, or immediate threat of a person being taken abroad, please ring the Police on 999.

If you have concerns that a girl or young woman may be taken overseas for FGM then please contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500.


Further Help and Information