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 this harmful practice is not advocated 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 new born 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.