Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is sometimes referred to as female circumcision refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is illegal, even if it is carried out by a healthcare professional or if it takes place outside of the UK (on a UK national or UK resident).
Why does FGM happen?
FGM happens to women and girls in adolescence, childhood and sometimes as a baby.
Some of the reasons given for the practise of FGM are;
- Protecting family honour
- A passage into womanhood
- A condition of marriage
- Preserving tradition
- Ensuring a woman’s chastity
Why is it dangerous?
- FGM can lead to serious health problems and in some cases death
- Psychological trauma/ depression
- Problems with pregnancy and childbirth
FGM is illegal
Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 it is an offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for anyone (regardless of their nationality and residence status) to
- Perform FGM in the UK
- Assist in the carrying out of FGM in the UK
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in the UK and
- Assist from the UK a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
Anybody found guilty of an offence under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 will be liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment or a fine or both.
Who is most at risk of FGM?
UK communities that are most at risk of FGM include Kenyan, Somali, Sudanese, Sierra Leonean, Egyptian, Nigerian and Eritrean. Non-African communities that may also practise FGM include Yemeni, Afghani, Kurdish, Indonesian and Pakistani.
What should I do if I’m worried that somebody I know is at risk of FGM?
- Talk to them about your concerns
- Consult a child protection advisor and make a referral to children’s social care or the police
- Call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 for more information
Where can I go to for further help and information?
NSPCC FGM helpline - 0800 028 3550
Childline - 0800 1111 (24 hour free helpline)
Savera UK - 0800 107 0726
Merseyside Police - 101
If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.