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Female Genital Mutilation - Information

What is FGM?

FGM, also referred to as female circumcision or cutting is the partial or complete removal of a girl/woman's external genitalia for non-medical reasons. World Health Organisation (WHO)

Types of FGM

The World Health Organisation has classified FGM into four different types

Type I – Clitoridectomy

Partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and/or the prepuce (the clitoral hood or fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

Type II – Excision

Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the inner labia, with or without excision of the outer labia (the labia are the ‘lips’ that surround the vagina).

Type III – Infibulation

Narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner or outer labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Type IV – Other

All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, eg, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising (burning) the genital area.

What are the health consequences of FGM?

  • Death
  • Severe pain and shock
  • Broken limbs from being held down
  • Injury to adjacent tissues
  • Urine retention
  • Increased risk of HIV and AIDS
  • Uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections
  • Cysts and neuromas
  • Increased risk of fistula
  • Complications in childbirth
  • Depression and post-natal depression
  • Psychosexual problems
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Difficulties in menstruation
  • Trauma and flashbacks
  • Infertility

Why do people practice FGM?

Many affected communities believe that FGM is a necessary custom to ensure that a girl is accepted within the community and eligible for marriage.

Families who practice FGM on girls usually see it as a way of safeguarding their future.

Other reasons include:

  • Perceived health benefits
  • Preservation of the girl’s virginity
  • Cleanliness
  • Rite of passage into woman-hood
  • Status in the community
  • Protection of family honour
  • Perceived religious justifications. There are no religions that advocate for FGM.

What is the Law in the UK around FGM?

FGM Act 2003:

A person is guilty of an offence if they excise, infibulate or otherwise mutilate the whole or any part of a girl’s or woman’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris for non-medical reasons.

It is illegal to perform/arrange for FGM to be carried out on a girl in the UK or to take a girl abroad.

Serious Crime Act 2015: 

Section 70(1) of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”) amends section 4 of the FGM Act 2003

  • to extend the extra-territorial powers of the law to further protect victims of FGM.
  • It also introduces victim anonymity to victims of FGM
  • The Serious Crime Act introduces civil measures to protect girls or women who have suffered or are believed to be at risk from FGM.  Find out more about Protection Orders.
  • It also introduces a mandatory reporting duty to report known cases of FGM that applies to all regulated professionals.
  • The law covers all habitual residence of the UK and British Citizens.
  • New offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM. This will mean that if an offence of FGM is committed against a girl under the age of 16, each person who is responsible for the girl at the time of FGM occurred will be liable under this new offence. The maximum penalty for the new offence is seven years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.

National FGM Centre

NSPCC Guidance

Women in Safe Hands Project (WISH)

Blossom Clinic - for non pregnant survivors of FGM