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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises 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. The practice has no health benefits for girls and women and cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

The practice of FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women. It is child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls, and therefore should be treated as such.  Cases should be dealt with as part of existing structures, policies and procedures on child protection and adult safeguarding.

FGM is illegal in the UK. It is a practice which takes place worldwide in at least 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It also takes place within parts of Western Europe and other developed countries, primarily among immigrant and refugee communities.

Types of FGM

FGM has been classified by the World Health Organisation into 4 types:

Type 1: This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris), and/or the prepuce/clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).
Type 2: This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).
Type 3: Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans.
Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g., pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.

Implications of FGM

Health implications can range from severe pain and emotional/psychological trauma to, in some cases, death. The health problems caused by FGM Type 3 are severe – urinary problems, difficulty with menstruation, pain during sex, lack of pleasurable sensation, psychological problems, infertility, vaginal infections, specific problems during pregnancy and childbirth, including flashbacks. Women with FGM Type 3 require special care during pregnancy and childbirth.

Signs and Indicators of FGM

  • A female child is born to a woman who has undergone Female Genital Mutilation or whose older sibling or cousin has undergone Female Genital Mutilation
  • A woman/family believe Female Genital Mutilation is integral to their culture, religious identity or community beliefs
  • The girl talks about a 'special procedure/ceremony' that is going to take place or attending a special occasion to 'become a woman' or about a long holiday to her country of origin where the practice is prevalent
  • A parent or family member expresses concern or a girl requests help because she is aware that Female Genital Mutilation may be carried out

Mandatory Reporting Duty

Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales have a duty to report to the police 'known' cases of Female Genital Mutilation in under 18s which they identify in the course of their professional work. Reports should be made using the non emergency 101 telephone number.

'Known' cases are those where either a girl informs the person that an act of Female Genital Mutilation – however described – has been carried out on her, or where the person observes physical signs on a girl appearing to show that an act of Female Genital Mutilation has been carried out and the person has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl's physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.

For more information on the Mandatory Reporting Duty, please see:
Mandatory reporting of FGM - Procedural Information
Mandatory Reporting of FGM in Healthcare

Local Resource and Guidance

To view the latest Pan Berkshire procedure relating to FGM including a detailed list of signs and indicators please go to: Pan Berkshire Safeguarding Children Procedures - FGM

Oxford Against Cutting: Many girls are at highest risk during the long summer break. Oxford Against Cutting can deliver sensitive, high quality staff training and student lessons to support learning in primary and secondary schools and professional groups on:

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Forced marriage and other forms of honor-based abuse (HBA)
  • Body image (including learning on FGM, female cosmetic genital surgery, unrealistic expectations for body images shown online and how pornography presents a distorted picture of sexual behaviour)
  • Body rights and safety (from all forms of sexual harm) – primary school lesson (including the NSPCC PANTS campaign)

All of their training is age appropriate and delivered by facilitators from affected communities and they are a chosen provider of training for the NASUWT.

For more information visit: www.oxfordagainstcutting.org 

Home Office Guidance

The Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership have produced a newsletter containing all relevant information, please print this off and display where appropriate:
FGM Newsletter


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