What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
FGM is when a girl’s external genitalia (vagina) are cut or pricked.
It is mainly carried out on young girls between the ages of 8 – 15, often when girls leave primary school and before they enter secondary school, but can be carried out at any age. The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas. FGM is therefore a global concern.
There are different types of FGM. FGM is when a girls genitals are altered by cutting or pricking. This can be extensive and include sewing labial tissue (folds of skin that form part of the external genitalia) over the openings of the vagina and the urethra leaving only a small hole from which urine and menses can drain. This is the most extreme type of FGM and can cause significant ongoing and recurrent health problems.
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Alternatively, you can call NSPCC FGM Help Line on 0800 028 3550
In the UK FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Female Circumcision Act). In 2003 the law was updated and renamed the Female Genital Mutilation Act. This means that anyone found to be involved in FGM including sending girls abroad for FGM can be prosecuted and sent to prison for up to 14 years.
Under UK law FGM is regarded as a human rights issue. When it involves a girl under 18 years it is regarded as child abuse and when it involves a women over the age of 18 it is treated as violence against women.