Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons
- The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women
- Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new-born deaths
- More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated
- More than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and the trend towards medicalization is increasing
- FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, and occasionally on adult women
- FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women
- The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years in prison
World Health Organisation - February 2017
Suspicions may arise in a number of ways that a child is being prepared for FGM to take place abroad. If any agency becomes aware of a child who may have been subjected to or is at risk of FGM they must make a referral to Children's Social Care.
Legal Requirements to Report Cases
Since October 2015, doctors, nurses, midwives and teachers are now legally required to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police.
Failure to do so will result in disciplinary measures and could ultimately lead to them being barred from working: Government guidance.
The rules apply in England and Wales when girls under 18 say they have been cut or staff recognise the signs.
All professionals need to consider whether any other indicators exist that FGM may have or has already taken place. For example:
- Preparations are being made to take a long holiday - arranging vaccinations or planning an absence from school
- The child has changed in behaviour after a prolonged absence from school
- The child has health problems, particularly bladder or menstrual problems
- You are aware of women in the family who have had the procedure and this may prompt concern as to the potential risk of harm to other female children
How to report female genital mutilation: guidance for health professionals
FGM films for healthcare professionals
The Department of Health has published a set of films about female genital mutilation (FGM) for healthcare professionals. Topics covered include: the impact of FGM on mental health; mandatory reporting; personal experiences of FGM and how healthcare professionals can support victims.
Source: Department of Health Date: 30 August 2016
Further information: FGM resources for healthcare professionals