Female Genital Mutilation

Are you worried that a child may be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation? Are you a child worried about FGM? Signs that FGM may be planned include plans for a long holiday with a special celebration about becoming a woman, and your family may talk of ‘pinching your bottom’.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting. FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

FGM is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

FGM has no health benefits for girls and women and procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth.

Women and girls who are experiencing complications from FGM can get medical help either through the doctor’s surgery where they are registered or can seek advice by calling one of the helplines on the right.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in March 2004.

The Act:

  • Makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK;
  • Makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country;
  • Makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad;
  • Has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine.

What to do?

If you suspect that a child may be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation, either in this country or abroad, or that it has been carried out then it is important that you report these concerns to children social care 01452 426565 here and/or the police central referral unit here

A vast range of professionals including police officers, teachers and social workers now have a greater awareness of this issue in Gloucestershire. If a child is at immediate risk ring the Police on 999.
If you have experienced FGM it is not your fault and there are local and national services that can provide support.

If you are pregnant and have had FGM or been circumcised, it’s important that you register with a midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant.

You can find a midwife through your GP. Gloucestershire midwives have all received training and will understand the issues of FGM. Your midwife can refer you to Bristol Community Rose Clinic should you require “opening” surgery. Medical advice and treatment is confidential.

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Reminder- the impact of abuse on children is a safeguarding issue and child protection procedures should be followed.

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