Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other damage to the genital organs, for supposed cultural, religious or non-medical reasons. FGM is also known as female circumcision, 'cutting' and 'sunna' and can affect females from birth to pregnancy. This can cause severe physical and psychological damage which can last a lifetime.
While there is some intelligence to suggest FGM is being physically performed in the UK; most victims are usually taken abroad, commonly on flights in the holiday periods of Easter, summer and Christmas.
FGM is routinely practised in some African and Middle Eastern countries. In some countries up to 98 per cent of young women have undergone the FGM procedure. Around 66,000 girls and women living in England and Wales have undergone FGM, with a further estimated 20,000 girls under the age of 15 at risk.
What are the warning signs of FGM?
- Days off school
- Not participating in PE
- Broken limbs
- Wearing tight clothing
- In pain/restricted movement
- Change in behaviour/demeanour
- Parents originate from an FGM practising country
Health - the potential effects of FGM include:
- Severe pain & shock
- Urine retention
- Infection including tetanus & HIV
- Injury to adjacent tissue
- Fracture or dislocation to limbs as a result of restraint
- Difficulty with passing urine & chronic urinary tract infections leading to renal problems or renal failure
- Difficulties with menstruation
- Acute & chronic pelvic infections leading to infertility
- Sexual dysfunction/psychological damage and flashbacks
- Complications during pregnancy
- Chronic scar formations
- The need for later surgery to open the lower vagina for sexual intercourse and childbirth
For more information please visit - NHS England Sexual Health Services
- The family come from a community that is known to practise FGM
- Parents announce they will be taking the child out of the country for a prolonged period
- A child may talk about a long holiday to a country where FGM is routinely practiced
- A child may confide that she is to have a "special procedure" or celebration
FGM and Religion
Female genital mutilation is not a religious requirement or obligation. FGM, including a symbolic prick to the clitoris, has no link with Islam and is neither a requirement nor a 'Sunna' in Islam. Globally most Muslims do not practise FGM.
FGM is not condoned by Christian or Jewish teachings, or the Bible or Torah.
Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
FGM is illegal in the UK.
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 the carrying out of FGM in the UK
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in the UK
- Assist from the UK, a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
It is also an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to do the following, even in countries:
- Perform FGM on any person overseas
- Assist FGM carried out abroad by a UK national or permanent UK resident - this would cover taking a girl abroad to be subjected to FGM
- Assist a girl to perform FGM on herself outside the UK
- Assist FGM carried out abroad by a non-UK person on a girl/woman who is a UK national or permanent UK resident - this would cover taking a girl abroad to be subjected to FGM
Any person found guilty of an offence will be liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment or a fine or both.
*In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the practice is illegal under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. In Scotland it is illegal under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005.
What to do if you are concerned about FGM
If you are worried that you may be at risk of FGM:
- Talk to someone you trust, maybe a teacher or school nurse.
- Remember that no-one is allowed to hurt you physically or emotionally, and FGM is not allowed in this country.
- There are people who can help, you can call the police on 101 and specially trained officers will understand and be able to help you. You can call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]
If you are worried that someone you know is at risk of FGM:
- Talk to them about your concerns
- Be sensitive and let them know they can talk to you again
- Speak to the police by calling your local Safeguarding Unit or 101 for non-emergencies
- Call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]
Where to go for help
You can contact West Yorkshire Police in a non emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling Police on 101.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing please use type talk 18001 101.
If there is a danger to life or a crime is in progress always call 999.
There are Safeguarding Units in every district of West Yorkshire with professionals who understand the issues of forced marriage and know how to help:
- Bradford District Safeguarding Unit - 01274 376116
- Calderdale District Safeguarding Unit - 01422 337041
- Kirklees District Safeguarding Unit - 01924 335073
- Leeds District Safeguarding Unit - 0113 3859590
- Wakefield District Safeguarding Unit - 01924 878385
Other agencies that can help or give more information:
NSPCC FGM Helpline
0800 028 3550
0800 1111 (24hr free helpline)