Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

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What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genital organs are deliberately cut or injured, but where there is no medical reason for this to be done. It is very painful and dangerous and can seriously harm women and girls’ health. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure. Women who have had FGM may have mental health conditions as a result, and are likely to have difficulty in giving birth.

FGM can be carried out on girls of all ages but may be more common between the ages of 5 and 10. It can be known as female circumcision, cutting or by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan among other names.

Government statutory guidance

In April 2016 the government issued multi-agency guidelines on FGM for those with statutory duties to safeguard children and vulnerable adults. This can be downloaded here:

FGM Statutory guidance

What help is available for anyone affected by FGM?

If you have had FGM, you can get help and support from your GP or other healthcare professionals.

If you are concerned about any girl who may be at risk of FGM, tell a health professional or phone the NSPCC helpline:

0800 028 3550, 24hrs a day.

NSPCC FGM webpage

If you are worried that you may be pressured by your family or community to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare and social care professionals for help.

Everybody's Business is a youth-led website that raises awareness about FGM:

fgm-every-bodys-biz.co.uk

Government guidance

Government advice and help is available here: Female genital mutilation: help and advice


Advice for Professionals

From October 31 2015 it is mandatory for regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police.

The duty applies where in the course of their professional duties, the professional either:

  • Is informed by the girl that an act of FGM has been carried out on her; or

  • Observes physical signs which appear to show an act of FGM has been carried out and has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.

The professional is expected to make a referral within one month, this includes ensuring the family is aware of the report. The duty applies only to those cases which are visually identified or disclosed to a professional by the victim and is under 18yrs old).

The duty does not apply in relation to ‘at risk’ cases. In this instance Bexley safeguarding procedures must be followed.

The Editoral Board of the London Child Protection Procedures has agreed to adopt a flowchart for meeting the new FGM mandatory reporting requirements. This means that where a professional who is subject to the mandatory reporting duty has either been told by a girl that she has had FGM or has observed a physical sign appearing to show that a girl has had FGM s/he should personally report the matter to the police by calling 101. In all other cases, professionals should follow normal safeguarding processes.

London Child Protection Procedures

Other professionals

Home Office and Department for Education guidance is available here:

Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information