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What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure that sees the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is illegal to perform FGM in the UK or assist with carrying out FGM in the UK. It’s also illegal for a UK national or permanent UK resident to perform or assist FGM abroad; this includes taking, or helping, a girl abroad for FGM to be carried out. 

Any person 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.
Some supporters of FGM may say that they are doing it in the name of religion, but the practice isn’t mentioned in any holy book.


Who is affected?

It is estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year.

FGM is typically inflicted on girls aged between four and thirteen, though women of any age and even newborn infants can be affected.

UK communities that are most at risk of FGM include Kenyan, Somali, Sudanese, Sierra Leonean, Egyptian, Nigerian and Eritrean. Non-African communities that practise FGM include Yemeni, Afghani, Kurdish, Indonesian, and Pakistani.


Spot the signs

Signs that FGM may have taken place on a child include; 

  • a lengthy absence from school
  • having difficulty walking, sitting or standing
  • spending longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
  • health problems including bladder and menstrual issues,
  • complaints about pain between their legs
  • behavioural changes
  • talking about being taken away for a special ceremony;
  • mentioning something that has happened to them which they are not allowed to talk about.


Where to go for help

If you suspect that someone has been, or is about to become, a victim of FGM, you can contact the police on 101.

If you contact us we will:

  • Arrange to see you in a secure and private place.
  • Recognise and respect your wishes.
  • Ensure everything you speak to us about is confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone.
  • Take action to protect you.
  • Provide you with support

The charity NSPCC have a dedicated FGM helpline - 0800 028 3550. You can also email them on fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

If you’re worried you may be at risk of FGM talk to someone you trust, maybe a teacher or a school nurse.

If you have had FGM done you can seek medical advice and help from specialist health services.


In an emergency, or if a crime is in progress, then please contact emergency services on 999.


Further information


Follow the #endFGM tag on Twitter.