What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as female circumcision or cutting.

  • Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM.
  • FGM is child abuse.
  • It’s dangerous and a criminal offence.


There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn’t enhance fertility and it doesn’t make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.

Signs of FGM

FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985. In 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.


Reporting requirements

Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales must report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s to the police (Home Office, 2016).


Why might you be suspicious?

  • Is the girl from a community which practices FGM?
  • Is the family making preparations to take the girl on holiday, including: arranging vaccinations and planning absence from school
  • Does the girl talk about a special procedure or ceremony that is going to take place?


Are you worried a girl may have had FGM?

  • Prolonged absence from school
  • Behaviour change on return
  • Bladder or menstrual problems
  • Teachers have noticed girls not able to sit still and look uncomfortable
  • Complain about pain in between their legs
  • Talking about something someone did to them, but they are not allowed to talk about it.

What to do if you suspect a girl has had/ or will have FGM

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