FGM is sometimes called female circumcision or female genital cutting.
The terms ‘FGM’ or ‘cut’ are also common ones, although they are still not always understood by those in practicing communities, largely because they are English expressions. Others include the Somali ‘Gudnin’ and the Sudanese ‘Tahur’.
A person is guilty of an FGM offence If they remove, stitch, obstruct or otherwise mutilate all or any part of a girl or woman’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.
FGM is illegal, even if it is carried out by a healthcare professional or if it takes place outside of the UK (on a UK national or UK resident).
Why does FGM happen?
FGM happens to women and girls in adolescence, childhood and sometimes as a baby.
Some of the reasons given for the practise of FGM are;
- Protecting family honour;
- A passage into womanhood;
- A condition of marriage;
- Preserving tradition;
- Ensuring a woman’s chastity.
How you may be affected
FGM can lead to serious health problems and in some cases death. It can cause also problems with pregnancy and childbirth.
As well as the physical impact of FGM, victims can be deeply affected emotionally by a range of feelings, such as depression, isolation, worry and anxiety. It is often not discussed or reported for a number of reasons.
Victims might be embarrassed or ashamed about what has happened to them. Also, they may come under pressure from relatives or community members not to tell anyone, or worry that talking about it will bring dishonour on their family or get somebody into trouble.
That is why it is vital you do seek support and advice. Remember, nothing that has happened to you is your fault.
FGM crimes are a very sensitive issue, but there is support and advice available and just talking to someone about what you are going through will help you realise that there are people on your side who will support you and help you understand what your choices are and how you can move on.
FGM is illegal
Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 it is an offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for anyone (regardless of their nationality and residence status) to
- Perform FGM in the UK;
- Assist in the carrying out of FGM in the UK;
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in the UK; and
- Assist from the UK a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
Anybody found guilty of an offence under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 will be liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment or a fine or both.
Can I get medical help?
There is specialist help available from the NHS if you have undergone FGM and you should talk to your doctor about getting this help. If you need urgent help, you should visit your local emergency department.
What should I do if I’m worried that somebody I know is at risk of FGM?
- Talk to them about your concerns;
- Consult a child protection advisor and make a referral to children’s social care or the police;
- Call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 for more information.
Where can I get help or further information?
If you are a victim of FGM there are lots of organisations that can offer you help and advice.
If you are in immediate danger call 999.
Merseyside Police - 101
Merseyside Police will investigate all reports of honour based violence, forced marriage and FGM. We have a specialist team of officers who will listen to you and work with you to keep you safe and investigate any criminal actions.
Savera UK - 0800 107 0726 (Freephone)
Savera UK help people who are at risk of FGM, forced marriage, honour killings or are experiencing domestic abuse.
NSPCC FGM helpline - 0800 028 3550
Karma Nirvana – 0800 599 9247
Karma Nirvana have been supporting victims of honour crimes since 1993. Lines are open between 9.30 am – 5.00 pm.
Freedom Charity - 0845 607 0133
Charity for children and young people who are at risk or subject to honour based crimes/ forced marriages.
Childline - 0800 1111 (24 hour free helpline)
Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board - 0151 233 0493/ 0510
Sefton Safeguarding Children Board - 0151 934 4706/ 3366
Wirral Safeguarding Children Board - 0151 606 2000
St Helens Safeguarding Children Board - 01744 673 337
Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board - 0151 443 4311