Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The term FGM refers to harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.  There are 4 types which are all illegal and have serious health implications.

FGM is also referred to as 'cutting' or 'female circumcision' or other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan amongst others.  FGM is usually carried out on girls from infancy to puberty.

FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985.  In 2003 it also became an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.

Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

4 types of FGM

  • Type 1 (Clitoridectomy) - removing part or all of the clitoris
  • Type 2 (Excision) - removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips)
  • Type 3 (Infibulation) -  narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and re-positioning the labia
  • Type 4 - all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, scraping

Worried about FGM?

Call the FGM helpline if you are worried about a child who is at risk of or had FGM.

0800 028 3550

Indicators FGM may have taken place

  • have difficulty walking, standing or sitting
  • spending longer in the bathroom
  • behaviour is withdrawn, anxious or depressed
  • reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
  • may be embarrassed when asking for help

Indicators FGM may be about to happen

  • family arranging a long holiday abroad during the Summer holidays
  • unexplained, repeated or prolonged absence from school
  • talking about a female relative being cut- sister, cousin, mother ,aunt
  • talking about a female relative coming to visit
  • talking about a special procedure/ceremony about to take place

Who is most at risk of FGM?

Girls who live in communities that practise FGM are most at risk.  FGM is practised in up to 42 African countries in the Middle East and Asia.

FGM can happen in the UK or abroad.

The UK Home office has identified girls from the Somali, Kenyan, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Sudanese, Nigerian, Yemeni, Kurdish and Indonesian communities as being most at risk.