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Female genital mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is illegal in England and Wales under the FGM Act 2003. It is a form of child abuse and violence against women and as such is part of the safeguarding process.

This multi-agency guidance on female genital mutilation (FGM) should be read and followed by all persons and bodies in England and Wales who are under statutory duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

A new mandatory reporting duty for FGM was introduced on 31st October 2015 via the Serious Crime Act 2015, following a public consultation. The duty requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police.

The duty applies where, in the course of their professional duties, a professional discovers that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl aged under 18 (at the time of the discovery).

The Home Office has published procedural information on the duty to help health and social care professionals, teachers and the police prepare.   

There are also resources explaining healthcare professionals' duty to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in girls under 18. 

These documents support the introduction of the duty. They include: 

a poster explaining what the duty means for healthcare professionals

guidance on what healthcare professionals should do if they think a child has had or is at risk of FGM 

a training package to introduce the duty to healthcare professionals

a leaflet explaining the duty to patients

While the duty is placed on specified regulated professionals, other professionals also have a duty as part of their safeguarding responsibilities in relation to any identified or suspected case of FGM. Multi-agency guidelines on FGM for those with statutory duties to safeguard children and vulnerable adults will help advise them on good practice when concerned about FGM.

FGM Protection Orders came into force in July 2015; it is a civil measure that can be applied through the family court. The Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under civil law. Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, a breach could be dealt with in the family court as a contempt of court, carrying a maximum of two years’ imprisonment. Here is a useful Fact Sheet from the Home Office on the changes.

Ending violence against women and girls in the UK - Government policy on Gov.UK

Resources on female genital mutilation - From London Safeguarding Children Board

Statement opposing female genital mutilation - From the Home Office (2012)

Female genital mutilation: The facts - Leaflet published by the government

Female genital mutilation of girls is child abuse - Poster from the government

Petals is a web app to help protect young girls and women from female genital mutilation (FGM). Includes: information about FGM; personal stories from those who have been affected; links to educational films; a quiz; and tips on how to get involved in campaigning to end the practice. Provides details of where those affected or at risk can go to get help and advice and provides access to the NSPCC's National FGM Helpline at the touch of a button. Works across most mobile devices.