Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of abuse which can have devastating physical and psychological consequences for girls and women.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as "procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons" (WHO, 2013).

FGM is sometimes also known as 'female genital cutting' and is mostly carried out on young girls.

FGM procedures can cause:

  • severe bleeding
  • infections
  • problems with giving birth later in life - including the death of the baby

These procedures are illegal in the UK.

Since 1985 it has been a serious criminal offence under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act to perform FGM or to assist a girl to perform FGM on herself. It is also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident out of the UK to undergo FGM or to help someone else to do so. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 tightened this law to criminalise FGM being carried out on UK citizens overseas.

Anyone found guilty of carrying out FGM or helping it to take place faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Report a concern

  • If you know someone in the UK that is at risk of having FGM performed on them you should contact Essex Police on 999
  • Essex Children's Social Care on 0345 603 7627 (Out of hours 0345 606 1212)
  • If you wish to raise a non-urgent concern about FGM you should contact Essex Police on 101
  • Alternatively, if the person has already been taken abroad you can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on: 020 7008 1500 (from overseas: +44 20 7008 1500)

Help and support

  • The NSPCC has set up a FGM helpline that is in operation 24 hours a day and is staffed by specifically trained child protection counsellors who offer advice, information and assistance to members of the public and professionals. For NSPCC Helpline contact details and more in depth information about FGM see NSPCC advice on female genital mutilation in Related Content on this page.
  • If you are a child or young person and would like to speak to someone in confidence you can contact Childline on 0800 1111.