Female genital mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is when part or all of a girl or young woman's genitals are removed or injured for non-medical reasons. It's sometimes called ‘female genital cutting’ or ‘female circumcision’. Some communities use local names for referring to FGM, for example ‘sunna’.
If you think you’re at risk of FGM
If you're worried that you may be at risk of FGM, you should talk to someone you trust like a teacher or school nurse. They will be able to help and protect you.
Remember that no one is allowed to hurt you physically or emotionally, and FGM is not allowed in this country.
If you would rather speak to someone who doesn’t know you and your family, there are organisations that can help you, including:
the NSPCC, which has an FGM helpline you can call on 0800 028 3550 at any time - it’s free and you don’t have to tell them your name (you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org)
FORWARD, which can give you information and one-to-one support - you can call them on 020 8960 4000 (Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5.30pm) or email email@example.com
If you think you're in immediate danger, call 999 and tell the police.
If you’re worried about someone you know
Call the NSPCC’s FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're worried a girl or young woman is at risk of (or has had) FGM.
GOV.UK has more information on what to do if you know somebody at risk including what to do if you think she might have been taken abroad.
The NSPCC’s website tells you how to spot the signs, symptoms and effects of FGM.
If you're a health or social care professional or a teacher
You're legally obliged to report cases where you know, or have reason to suspect, that FGM has been carried out and the victim is under 18 years old.
Read more about mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation on GOV.UK.
Apply for a protection order
If you think you or someone you know personally or professionally is at risk of FGM, you can get a female genital mutilation protection order.
A civil protection order could, for example, force parents to hand over their daughter’s passport, so she can’t be taken abroad.
Anyone who doesn’t comply with a civil protection order can get up to 5 years in prison.
Get help if you're a victim of FGM
GOV.UK has information about local organisations that can help you.
Report the people involved
The people who carried out the FGM on you (or helped you do it to yourself) could be prosecuted.
You might be afraid to report them because you are worried that people will find out, but you can have your identity kept secret if you go to court.
You will need to speak to a legal adviser or solicitor. You can read about finding a legal adviser and using a solicitor.
You could get Legal Aid, which can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in court.
If you're thinking of carrying out or allowing FGM
FGM is not a religious requirement or obligation. It is not a ‘sunna’ in Islam and most Muslims around the world do not practice it. FGM is not condoned by Christian or Jewish teachings, or the Bible or Torah.
The procedure doesn’t have any health benefits. Instead, victims experience harmful physical and psychological effects, which can cause them suffering throughout their lives. Some victims die as a result of FGM. You can find information about the health effects of FGM on the NHS Choices website.
All girls and young women who live in the UK are protected from FGM by law, even if they were born abroad or haven’t lived here for their whole lives.
In the UK it's a criminal offence for UK residents (and anyone coming to the UK from abroad) to carry out FGM on a girl or help a girl to carry out FGM on herself.
If you are convicted of one of these offences you face going to prison, in some cases for up to 14 years.
It is illegal to allow your daughter or another girl in your care to become a victim of FGM. Breaking this law can mean up to 7 years in prison.
It is against the law to take a girl or young woman who is a British national or UK resident abroad for FGM, whether or not it's lawful in that country.
If you are a UK resident, it is illegal to practice or assist with carrying out FGM abroad on a girl or young woman who is also a UK resident.
In these cases, both you and the girl are considered a UK resident if you are a non-UK national who is classed as ‘habitually resident’ in the UK. ‘Habitually resident’ means you have a legal right to be in the UK and you’re settled here for the time being.