Female Genital Mutilation FGM

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out, without anesthetic on girls between infancy and age 15. FGM has zero health benefits and often results in lifelong health problems, increased risks during childbirth, psychological trauma, and even death.

Often rationalized as a rite of passage into womanhood, in reality FGM is an extreme form of violence used to control girls’ and women’s sexuality. It involves a mixture of cultural, social and religious traditions associated with preparing for adulthood and marriage, and ideals of community, modesty and fidelity. Most instances occur in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but FGM is also practiced in Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and North America.

Getting help and support

All women and girls have the right to control what happens to their bodies and the right to say no to FGM.  Help is available if you’ve had FGM or you’re worried that you or someone you know is at risk.

  • If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999.
  • If you’re concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.
  • If you’re under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help, or contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.
  • If you’ve had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP, midwife or any other healthcare professional about services in your area. 
  • Link Clinic – Manchester Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Staffed by a specialist midwife/coordinator, both community and Children’s Centre midwives, and health link workers, the service offers a range of support aids including education and parenting classes, information leaflets and CDs. The clinic benefits from interpreters as well as a telephone interpreting service.

If you’re a health professional caring for a patient under 18 who has undergone FGM, you have professional responsibilities to safeguard and protect her. Guidance and resources about FGM for healthcare staff are available on the GOV.UK website.