Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also called Female Circumcision or Female Genital Cutting, is any procedure that’s designed to alter or injure a girl’s (or woman’s) genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad to undergo FGM or to help someone who is trying to arrange to have FGM performed. The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or for helping to to be performed is 14 years in prison.
For more information and advice about FGM visit the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD).
If you are concerned about a friend or someone you know there are signs you can look out for which may indicate that a girl is at risk of FGM:
If a girl talks about plans to have a ‘special procedure’ or to attend a special occasion to ‘become a woman’.
If a girl’s parents state that they or a relative will take the child out of the country for a prolonged period.
A girl may talk about a long holiday to her country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent.
There are also signs which may indicate that a girl or young woman has already undergone FGM:
Difficulty walking, sitting or standing.
Spending longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet due to difficulties urinating.
Spending long periods of time away from a classroom during the day with bladder or menstrual problems.
Having frequent urinary or menstrual problems.
Prolonged or repeated absences from school or college.
A prolonged absence from school or college with noticeable behaviour changes (e.g. withdrawal or depression)
Being particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations.
Asking for help, but not being explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
The NSPCC has a 24 hour helpline to provide advice and support to victims of FGM, or to anyone who may be concerned a child is at risk. Call the helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the helpline can be found on the NSPCC website.
FGM is a form of child abuse. If you are concerned that a child is at risk of, or has undergone, FGM contact Islington’s Referral and Advice Team, 020 7527 7400, email@example.com
In addition, there are a number of services that can support you if you are concerned that you or someone you know may be at risk of FGM, or you have already undergone FGM. To get more information search for ‘FGM’ in our domestic and sexual violence service directory.
You can also call the Honour Network Helpline operated by Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 247, or call the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation on 0207 920 6460 (9.30 - 5.30) or on one of their 24hour numbers 07846 310157(Farsi / Dari / Turkish) or 07846 275246 (Kurdish/Arabic) to speak in confidence to someone if you are facing, or have already experienced, FGM.
To report a crime to the police dial 101 (non-emergency). If you believe that you or someone else are in immediate danger always dial 999.
If you are concerned that you may be taken out of the country to undergo FGM you can download the 'Statement Opposing Female Genital Mutilation' below. This explains the UK law around FGM and makes clear that anyone involved in arranging FGM that happens outside the UK can still face punishment in UK courts.