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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genital organs are injured or changed for non-medical reasons. FGM is a criminal offence in the UK and should be reported to the police and safeguarding agencies when there are concerns about this being done to a child, or to an adult unable to protect themselves.



It is estimated that more than 200 million women and girls worldwide have undergone FGM and that 137,000 women and girls are living with the consequences of FGM in England and Wales.

It may take place when a female baby is new-born, during their childhood or just before marriage. The National FGM Centre Global Prevalence Map provides information about prevalence rates and common ages of practice in various countries across the world.

Potential Health Consequences

FGM has no health benefits. It can cause many short and long-term health consequences including: severe pain and shock, depression, difficulties in pregnancy and childbirth, menstrual problems, chronic vaginal infections, and even death. Women and girls who have been subjected to FGM can also suffer serious psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences.

FGM & The Law

FGM is illegal in the UK. It is an offence to perform FGM in the UK, to assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself, and to help or arrange for anyone to undertake FGM abroad on a UK national or resident.

Mandatory Reporting 

The Serious Crime Act 2015 introduced the mandatory reporting duty. If a girl (under 18) has disclosed that she has undergone FGM or you have visually identified FGM, and you are a registered professional or teacher, you will need to call the police on 101.

There is no requirement for automatic referral of adult women with FGM to adult social services or the police. 

What to Do If You Are Concerned

FGM is a form of abuse. Follow your agency’s safeguarding procedures.

  • If you are worried about a girl or woman being in immediate danger, contact the police by calling 999.
  • Contact the Stronger Families Hub if you are worried about a child
  • Contact Adult Social Care if you are concerned about an adult with care and support needs. 

If you are a health professional making a safeguarding referral for children. You will also need to complete the Department of Health’s (DOH) FGM Risk Assessment and attach this to the referral.

Professionals should seek to support women by offering referrals to community groups or specialist clinics who can provide support, or other services as appropriate. 

For expert information and guidance for professionals please visit the National FGM Centre website for information about safeguarding children and adults from FGM.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) eLearning Course

A free, quick and easy platform consisting of 5 modules that explore the key components of FGM within the context of harmful practices. The course was designed in collaboration with professionals, victims/survivors and young people to support risk assessment of FGM, and safeguarding practice with girls and families. It is suitable for any professional, in any role, working with children, adults, and their families.
• An introduction to Harmful Practices
• What is FGM?
• The impacts of FGM
• The law and FGM
• Cultural literacy and FGM
Access the eLearning here: