Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done. It's also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms such as Sunna, Gudniin, Halalays, Tahur, Megrez and Khitan, among others. 

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse. It's very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with infection, sexual activity, childbirth and mental health.

More information on what FGM involves and the effects on victims can be found by visiting the NHS website

The Law and FGM

FGM is illegal in the UK.

It is an offence to:

  • perform FGM (including taking a child abroad for FGM)
  • help a girl perform FGM on herself in or outside the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM in the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM outside the UK on a UK national or resident
  • fail to protect a girl for whom you are responsible from FGM

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison. Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to seven years in prison.

For further information you can download the Home Office FGM Resource Pack here which include information on legislation, prevalence, support available, healthcare, education , and joint working.  

Support for victims and those at risk of FGM

All women and girls have the right to control what happens to their bodies and the right to say no to FGM.

Help is available if you've had FGM or you're worried that you or someone you know is at risk.

  • If someone is in immediate danger contact the police immediately by dialling 999.
  • If you're concerned that someone may be at risk contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.
  • If you're under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help or contact the NSPCC helpline.
  • If you've had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP midwife or any other healthcare professional about services in your area. 

Emotional support is also available by contacting Victims First.