Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM is a form of child abuse. It's dangerous and a criminal offence in the UK.
- There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM
- It's often performed by someone with no medical training, using instruments such as knives, scalpels, scissors, glass or razor blades
- Children are rarely given anaesthetic or antiseptic treatment and are often forcibly restrained
- It's used to control female sexuality and can cause long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.
- FGM can happen at different times in a girl or woman's life, including:
- When a baby is new-born
- During childhood or as a teenager
- Just before marriage
- During pregnancy
The procedure of FGM is a serious Child Protection issue. It is illegal for anyone to perform FGM in the UK or to arrange for a child to be transported to another country for the procedure to be carried out. The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years in prison.
If you think that a girl or young woman is in danger of FGM, you must contact the Police immediately on 999.
You should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (020 7008 1500) if you believe she’s already been taken abroad for this purpose.
Effects of FGM
There are no health benefits to FGM. It can cause serious harm, including:
- Severe and/or constant pain
- Infections, such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
- Pain or difficulty having sex
- Bleeding, cysts and abscesses
- Difficulties urinating or incontinence
- Organ damage
- Problems during pregnancy and childbirth, which can be life-threatening for the mother and baby
- Mental health problems, such as depression, flashbacks and self-harm
- Death from blood loss or infections.
Why FGM happens
FGM is carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons. Some families and communities believe that FGM will benefit the girl in some way, such as preparing them for marriage or childbirth. FGM is a harmful practice that isn't required by any religion and there are no health benefits of FGM.
For further information and support please visit:
The NSPCC offers a free and anonymous FGM 24 hour helpline.