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Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation

What is it?

Female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M) is the partial or total removal of a girl’s external genitals. Her body is physically damaged when the healthy tissue of her genitals are cut away. There are no health benefits to FGC. Complex cultural and social reasons are often given about why it is practised

What are the impacts?

There are no health benefits to FGM/C. Removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

Immediate effects

  • severe pain
  • shock
  • bleeding
  • wound infections, including tetanus and gangrene, HIVhepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • inability to urinate
  • injury to vulval tissues surrounding the entrance to the vagina
  • damage to other organs nearby, such as the urethra (where urine passes) and the bowel

FGC/M can sometimes cause death.

Long-term consequences

  • chronic vaginal and pelvic infections
  • abnormal periods
  • difficulty passing urine, and persistent urine infections
  • kidney impairment and possible kidney failure
  • damage to the reproductive system, including infertility
  • complications in pregnancy and newborn deaths
  • pain during sex and lack of pleasurable sensation
  • psychological damage, including low libido, depression and anxiety

 

At what age does it happen?

The age at which a girl is cut depends on a specific cultural context. In some communities a girl may be cut during infancy in others, it may be later as a teenager. In half of the countries that practice FGC, the majority of girls are cut before age 5. Elsewhere, cutting occurs between 5 and 14 years of age.

 

Is it legal?

FGC/M is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGC/M. If caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

What can I do?

If you are worried that you or someone you know might be taken abroad for FGC/M, please call the police or local children’s services immediately. You can also ask a trusted adult such as a teacher or school nurse for advice first.

You can also obtain support from your Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). The NSPCC provides a list of LSCBs on their website.

Other organisations that can help are:

Childline
Helpline: 0800 1111
Website: www.childline.org.uk

NSPCC
FGM helpline: 0808 028 3550
Website: www.nspcc.org.uk

Metropolitan Police (Project Azure – FGM)
Helpline: 0207 161 2888

Crimestoppers
Helpline: 0800 555 111
Website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/