Female genital mutilation

FGM involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It is illegal in the UK and has no known health benefits and is physically and psychologically harmful to women and girls.

Female Genital Mutilation is also described as female circumcision, cutting sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others. It is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to take abroad a British national or permanent resident for FGM, or to help someone trying to do this. You can get 14 years in prison for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place.

If you do not want to talk to police about FGM, we are working closely with local organisations including HALO and the Angelou Centre, who can provide a supportive, confidential service to victims of FGM.

If you or someone you know is in immediate risk of harm from FGM call 999.


What is FGM?

FGM is an abbreviation for Female Genital Mutilation. It refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons.

How does FGM affect the health of women and girls?

FGM has serious implications for the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women. Complications can occur in all types of FGM. Immediate complications include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage and infection. Long term consequences include complications in childbirth, permanent damage to the vagina, as well as serious psychological effects.

Is FGM required by certain religions?

No religion promotes or condones FGM. Still, many girls and women see FGM as a religious requirement. And although FGM is often perceived as being connected to Islam, perhaps because it is practiced among many Muslim groups, not all Islamic groups practice FGM, and many non-Islamic groups do so too. 

Since FGM is part of a cultural tradition, can it still be condemned?

Yes. Culture and tradition provide a framework for human well-being, and cultural arguments cannot be used to condone violence against people, male or female.

If a girl gives consent, would FGM be okay?

No. FGM has no medical benefits and is a criminal offence regardless if the girl gives consent. As cultural and societal pressures to practise FGM are so strong, it is difficult to judge whether a woman is truly giving consent. There is always the question of whether she is undergoing FGM because she wants to, or because she feels like she has to.

If FGM is illegal in the UK, can a girl be taken abroad for the procedure?

No. In the UK the FGM Act (2003) makes it illegal to help, support or arrange for FGM to be performed on a girl either in the UK or abroad. The offence can be punished by up to 14 years in prison, a fine, or both.

All You Need To Know About FGM
The NHS explains FGM
‘The Cut’ FGM documentary
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