FGM is a form of child abuse and is an act of violence against women and girls. It is sometimes also known as female circumcision. Other local terms are:
The term FGM is used to refer to the removal of part or all of the female genitalia for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. This is extremely painful and has serious consequences for physical and mental health. It can also result in death.
It is illegal to practice FGM in the UK. It is also illegal to take a child abroad for FGM even if legal in that country.
FGM is sometimes incorrectly believed to be an Islamic practice. This is not the case and the Islamic Shari’a Council, the Muslim College and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) have condemned the practice of FGM.
FGM is classified into four categories:
- Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce
- Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora
- Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris
- Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area
The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously according to the community. The procedure may be carried out when the girl is newborn, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8 and therefore girls within that age bracket are at a higher risk.
Free on-line training in FGM awareness is available at: www.fgmelearning.co.uk
The Serious Crime Act 2015 in England and Wales introduced a requirement for all regulated health and social care professionals (registrants) to report FGM found in girls under the age of 18 years.
If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of FGM:
- In an emergency contact the Police
- Or contact Portsmouth Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
For contact details go to: What to do if you are worried about the Safety of a child – professionals
Further information and resources:
- 4 LSCB guidance: Female Genital Mutilation
- National guidance: Multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation
- FGM factsheet