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Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) sometimes referred to as female circumcision, refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

Key facts from the World Health Organisation -

  • the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women
  • procedures can cause -
    • excessive bleeding
    • shock
    • severe pain
    • Infections
    • genital tissue swelling
    • HIV
    • urination problems
    • death
    • mental health problems
    • impaired wound healing
    • sexual health problems
    • menstrual problems
    • scar tissue
    • childbirth complications
    • perinatal risks
  • more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is concentrated
  • mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15
  • is violation of the human rights of girls and women

As of 2015, mandatory reporting duty for FGM was introduced and as part of the sustainable development goals, the global community has set target to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation by the year 2030.


Practising FGM in the UK has been criminal offence since 1985 and the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 was revised on 3 March 2004 setting the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years imprisonment and made it criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to perform FGM overseas or take UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act was amended by section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 to include FGM Protection Orders. FGM Protection Orders came into force on Friday 17 July 2015 and is civil measure which can be applied for through family court. The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under the civil law.

The duty requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18 to the police.

The reporting procedural information should be read in conjunction with the multi-agency guidelines.

These guidelines are under consultation, with the Home Office analysing feedback.

Visit the GOV.UK website to access the consultation documents

Other documents for healthcare professionals to support the introduction of the duty include -

  • poster explaining what the duty means
  • guidance on what healthcare professionals should do if they think child has had or is at risk of FGM
  • training package to introduce the duty to healthcare professionals
  • leaflet explaining the duty to patients

Visit the GOV.UK website to access documents for healthcare professionals

The new National FGM Centre is partnership of Barnardos and the Local Government Association and funded by the Department for Education. For advice, email the centre at

You can also visit -

Access the HSCP Female Genital Mutilation Procedures and Guidance.