Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a form of child abuse which has devastating physical and psychological consequences for girls and women and it’s illegal in the UK. It’s also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad for FGM or to help someone trying to do this.
A new mandatory reporting duty for FGM was introduced via the Serious Crime Act 2015, following a public consultation and came into force on 31 October 2015. The 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.
What is FGM?
The World Health Organisation describes it 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).
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. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 tightened this law to criminalise FGM being carried out on UK citizens overseas.
Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
How can I find out more information?
The Government website, has lots more information about FGM including:
The NHS also has information concerning the effects of female genital mutilation. There are no health benefits to FGM. Removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.
Free Support and Advice
You can contact Suffolk Social Services on 0344 800 8020 for welfare/safety concerns relating to a child, young person or vulnerable adult
The NSPCC launched their own Free 24-hour advice and support helpline 0800 028 3550 to help protect UK children from FGM. They also ran a campaign on Twitter @NSPCC which called on mothers and carers to end FGM. You can search for information on Twitter using the hashtag #endFGM.
The Barnardos National FGM Centre has a Knowledge Hub which is a free online interactive website for professionals which allows access information on FGM. Select the profession you are in, and search for specific information you are looking for.
General Advice and Information
Healthy Suffolk also has an online FGM Information Hub which has lots more information and useful contact details.
If you have any immediate worries or concerns about a child at risk in Suffolk call the Police 101 number or contact Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board
In an Emergency always dial 999