Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

The definition of FGM is the partial or total removal of female genitalia which is carried out for cultural or non-therapeutic reasons; in some cultures it is known as cutting or female circumcision. There are four types of FGM

  • Type 1: Clitoridectomy also known as Sunna
  • Type 2: Excision
  • Type 3: Infibulation
  • Type 4: is unclassified as it could be a piercing, stretching, use of herbs to tighten or narrow the vagina or use of corrosive substances that cause bleeding, or cauterising or burning of the clitoris.

FGM is a criminal offence in the UK; it can be carried out on new born girls or during childhood or adolescence, it can happen before marriage or during a first pregnancy; although it is believed that it usually occurs between the ages of 5 and 8 years of age. 10% of cases result in death and there are believed to be 200 million women and girls who have been affected by FGM worldwide.

This practice is painful and can have serious health issues either at the time of the cutting or later in life.

No religion endorses this procedure and it is not part of any faith; it is a cultural belief based on a system that requires women to be “clean” to ensure that they make good marriages, that women are chaste and that the family “honour’ has not been sullied.

More information on FGM can be found in our Relationships Shouldn't Hurt podcast episode Harmful Practices: Female Genital Mutilation and transcript.

Indicators that FGM might be going to happen:

  • Permission required for an overseas trip
  • The girl talks about a party and presents and a visit from a relative from abroad
  • The girl might talk about becoming a woman soon
  • The family comes from an FGM practising family
  • The girl could be at risk if her mother and other female relatives have undergone FGM

Indicators that might suggest that FGM has occurred:

  • Absences from school
  • Behaviour change particularly after a holiday
  • Struggling to sit, walk or even stand because of the pain
  • Not wanting to do PE
  • Spending longer in the toilet, the bladder takes longer to empty (trickle effect)
  • Pain, urine infections
  • Difficulty with menstruation
  • Flash backs

There is a mandatory reporting duty for health care, social care & teachers

The referral process is via the non-emergency police number 101 and a referral to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)