Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - known as "female circumcision", "cutting" or sunna - is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done.
Other terms used are for example gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan. It is very painful and may cause serious health and emotional consequences.
FGM is child abuse, and it is illegal whether it happens in the UK or a girl who is a UK national or resident gets taken abroad to get cut. It is also a crime if you fail to protect a girl under 16 from FGM. Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse, it's dangerous and a criminal offence. There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM.
What to do if you feel pressured to have FGM done to your daughter or you know someone who is at risk?
You might be feeling pressured to have FGM done to your daughter, especially if you or other people in the family have been cut. Or might know someone who is at risk of FGM. This may make you feel scared or worried but there are people who can help; you are not alone.
Help is available if you've had FGM or you're worried that your child or someone you know is at risk.
- If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999.
- For advice, support or to report it, call the free 24 hour anonymous FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.
- For local support, contact the Gaia Centre on 0207 733 8724. It is a Lambeth service that supports girls and women that experience gender-based violence such as FGM
- If you're under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP or a teacher for help, or contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or Gaia Centre on 0207 733 8724. Print the 'FGM passport' that explains the law and health implications and show it to people.
- If you've had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP or any other healthcare professional about services in your area. Download a list of NHS FGM clinics (PDF, 430kb).
The African Well Woman’s Clinic, based in Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, provides counselling, support, advice and a reversal operation. Females can self-refer by calling 020 8188 6872 or emailing Comfort.Momoh@gstt.nhs.uk.
Africa Advocacy Foundation works in Lambeth providing drop-in confidential counselling and advice as well as discussions through group meetings for women. Call 020 8698 4473 or go to www.africadvocacy.org.