What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organisation as: ‘all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. FGM is sometimes also known as female circumcision. Other local terms are: Tahoor, Absum, Halalays, Khitan, Ibi, Sunna, Gudnii, Bondo and Kutairi.

FGM is extremely painful and has serious consequences for physical and mental health. It can also result in death. FGM is considered child abuse in the UK and it is illegal to perform. It is also illegal to take a child abroad for FGM even if legal in that country. It has significant long-term physical and emotional consequence for the survivors and it has been estimated that 137,000 girls and women in the UK are affected by this practice, but this is likely to be an underestimation.

FGM is sometimes incorrectly believed to be an Islamic practice. This is not the case and the Islamic Sharia Council, and the Muslim College and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), have condemned the practice of FGM.

FGM is classified into four categories:

  • Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce
  • Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora
  • Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris
  • Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area

The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously according to the community. The procedure may be carried out when the girl is new-born, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8 and therefore girls within that age bracket are at a higher risk.

Free Home Office on-line training in FGM awareness is available at:

www.fgmelearning.co.uk

Further information on FGM is available from the NHS:

FGM – Care and Prevention

If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of FGM:

  • In an emergency contact the Police
  • Or contact Children’s Services on 0300 555 1384

Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) has developed information and guidance for professionals including the mandatory reporting duty, which came into effect on 31 October 2015. This duty requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police.