Female genital mutilation (FGM)

What is FGM?

FGM comprises of all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

FGM is sometimes known as female genital 'cutting’ or female circumcision. Communities tend to use local names for referring to this practice, including sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, but can also occur in adults.

FGM is child abuse and is a violation of a girl's human rights. It is illegal in the UK with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison for anyone found guilty of FGM crimes, including if an individual is taken overseas to undergo FGM.

Tell me more

A girl at immediate risk of FGM may not know what’s going to happen. But she might talk about:

  • Being taken ‘home’ to visit family
  • A special occasion to ‘become a woman’
  • An older female relative visiting the UK

Signs FGM has taken place:

  • A girl may have difficulty walking, sitting or standing
  • She may spend longer than normal in the bathroom/toilet.
  • A girl may have prolonged or repeated absences from school.
  • There may be behaviour changes to that individual such as withdrawal or depression.
  • A girl may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

The lead-up to the school holidays is a time of increased risk for victims, who face the prospect of being taken abroad for the procedure.

FGM is illegal in the UK.

It is an offence to:

  • perform FGM (including taking a child abroad for FGM)
  • help a girl perform FGM on herself in or outside the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM in the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM outside the UK on a UK national or resident
  • fail to protect a girl for whom you are responsible from FGM

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison. Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to seven years in prison.

As part of the law and legislation around FGM there is a mandatory reporting duty which requires specified professionals (including teachers and regulated health and social care professionals) to report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s to the police.

FGM is medically unnecessary, is extremely painful, and has serious health consequences, both at the time of the procedure, and in later life. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure. It can also be psychologically damaging.

There are no health benefits to FGM and it can cause serious harm, including:

  • constant pain
  • pain and/or difficulty having sex
  • repeated infections, which can lead to infertility
  • bleeding, cysts and abscesses
  • problems passing urine or incontinence
  • depression, flashbacks and self-harm
  • problems during labour and childbirth, which can be life-threatening for mother and baby

For more advice and guidance around the health consequences of FGM visit the NHS website here

 

We have specialists who can provide advice and officers will aim to treat all information in confidence.

If you come to Dorset Police we will:

  • Believe you
  • Recognise and record your wishes as the victim
  • If you are under 18 years old, refer you to the Child Abuse Investigation Team
  • Treat the matter seriously, sensitively and in confidence
  • Work with you to keep you safe. Safety is the absolute priority and will take precedence over all other actions
  • Seek specialist advice if required

Dorset Police will not:

  • Send you away believing that it is not a police matter
  • Approach your family or community leaders
  • Share information without your consent
  • Attempt any form of mediation

If you are worried about the risk of FGM from family or community members either towards yourself or another, help is out there. The police and partner agencies are here to offer support, advice and protect you. You don’t have to put up with abuse. 

Dorset Police - Report online here or if you wish to speak with someone call 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency. 

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

Advice and support for children and young people:

Other Agencies who can help:

Leaving the country? 

If you are at an airport you must approach a uniformed staff member - police officer, UK Border Force, HM Customs & Revenue official or a uniformed airline official - urgently requesting to speak with police.

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, violence or forced marriage please report it online here or if you wish to speak with someone call 101. 

Always dial 999 in an emergency. 

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

As part of the law and legislation around FGM there is a mandatory reporting duty which requires specified professionals (including teachers and regulated health and social care professionals) to report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s to the police.

Click here for more information. 

Read or download the Dorset Police PVP Newsletter about FGM here

The Dorset Police Safe Schools Community Team has an honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM educational package available, which can be delivered at any school in Dorset. Teachers who feel this would be beneficial to their pupils can get in touch by emailing ssct@dorset.pnn.police.uk.

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