Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other damage to the genital organs, for supposed cultural, religious or non-medical reasons. FGM is also known as female circumcision, ‘cutting’ and ‘sunna’ and can affect females from birth to pregnancy. This can cause severe physical and psychological damage which can last a lifetime.

FGM is routinely practised in some African and Middle Eastern countries. In some countries up to 98 per cent of young women have undergone the FGM procedure. Recent research by Equality Now and City University London and published in July 2015 has shown that an estimated 137,000 women and girls with FGM, born in countries where FGM is practised, were permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011 and that 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM between 1996 and 2010.

Fact sheet on mandatory reporting of FGM (PDF)
Click image to open PDF

Female genital mutilation (FGM) - The facts (PDF)


What are the warning signs of FGM?


  • Days off school
  • Not participating in PE
  • Broken limbs
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • In pain/restricted movement
  • Change in behaviour/demeanour
  • Parents originate from an FGM practising country

Health - the potential effects of FGM include:

  • Haemorrhage
  • Severe pain & shock
  • Urine retention
  • Infection including tetanus & HIV
  • Injury to adjacent tissue
  • Fracture or dislocation to limbs as a result of restraint
  • Difficulty with passing urine & chronic urinary tract infections leading to renal problems or renal failure
  • Difficulties with menstruation
  • Acute & chronic pelvic infections leading to infertility
  • Sexual dysfunction/psychological damage and flashbacks
  • Complications during pregnancy
  • Chronic scar formations
  • The need for later surgery to open the lower vagina for sexual intercourse and childbirth
  • Death

For more information please visit - NHS England Sexual Health Services

Family History

  • The family come from a community that is known to practise FGM
  • Parents announce they will be taking the child out of the country for a prolonged period
  • A child may talk about a long holiday to a country where FGM is routinely practiced
  • A child may confide that she is to have a “special procedure” or celebration


FGM and Religion

Female genital mutilation is not a religious requirement or obligation. FGM, including a symbolic prick to the clitoris, has no link with Islam and is neither a requirement nor a ‘Sunna’ in Islam. Globally most Muslims do not practise FGM.

FGM is not condoned by Christian or Jewish teachings, or the Bible or Torah.


Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

FGM is illegal in the UK.

Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 it is an offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for anyone (regardless of their nationality and residence status) to:

  • Perform FGM in the UK
  • Assist the carrying out of FGM in the UK
  • Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in the UK
  • Assist from the UK, a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.

It is also an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to do the following, even in countries:

  • Perform FGM on any person overseas
  • Assist FGM carried out abroad by a UK national or permanent UK resident – this would cover taking a girl abroad to be subjected to FGM
  • Assist a girl to perform FGM on herself outside the UK
  • Assist FGM carried out abroad by a non-UK person on a girl/woman who is a UK national or permanent UK resident – this would cover taking a girl abroad to be subjected to FGM

Any person found guilty of an offence will be liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.

*In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the practice is illegal under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. In Scotland it is illegal under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005.

The 2003 Act has also been amended to introduce:

  • Lifelong anonymity for victims of FGM;
  • The creation of Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPO) – This allows a Court to make a civil  Order (similar to a Forced Marriage Protection Order or Restraining Order) to protect a person from FGM being committed upon them, for example by ordering that they may not be taken out of the country
  • A new offence of: Failing to protect a girl from risk of FGM - If an offence under sections 1, 2 or 3 of the act is committed against a girl under the age of 16, each person who is responsible for the girl at the time the FGM occurred could be guilty of an offence under Section 3A of the Act.

What to do if you are concerned about FGM

If you are worried that you may be at risk of FGM:

  • Talk to someone you trust, maybe a teacher or school nurse.
  • Remember that no-one is allowed to hurt you physically or emotionally, and FGM is not allowed in this country.
  • There are people who can help, you can call the police on 101 and specially trained officers will understand and be able to help you. You can call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]

If you are worried that someone you know is at risk of FGM:

  • Talk to them about your concerns
  • Be sensitive and let them know they can talk to you again
  • Speak to the police by calling your local Safeguarding Unit or 101 for non-emergencies
  • Call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]

Where to go for help

You can contact the police 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the non-emergency number, 101.

If you are in immediate danger or there is a crime in progress, always call 999.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing in a non-emergency use Typetalk 18001 101

You can chat online to the police using '101 Live Chat' at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/contactus

There are Safeguarding Units in every district of West Yorkshire with professionals who understand the issues of forced marriage and know how to help:

Other agencies that can help or give more information:

NSPCC FGM Helpline
0800 028 3550
[email protected]

0800 1111 (24hr free helpline)

Home Office
[email protected]

Coventry University - Petals - Web APP


Further Information on FGM (Home Office / Gov.UK)


Page last updated November 2022