Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is female circumcision. It is a cultural ritual in some countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In the UK some communities that originate from those countries practice FGM, which can be partial or full removal of the female genitals.
The World Health Organisation estimate more than 200 million women worldwide have suffered this mutilation. It is done for non-medical reasons and can cause severe bleeding, infection, problems with sex, difficulties urinating, complications in childbirth and even death. FGM also has a negative impact on the mental health of victims.
The procedure is generally carried out on girls between infancy and 15 years of age, most commonly when they begin puberty.
Female genital mutilation is illegal in the UK. It is an offence to perform FGM, or assist in the surgery. It is also an offence if you fail to protect a girl you are responsible for from FGM, and you will face up to 7 years in prison.
Effects of FGM
There are no health benefits relating to FGM and it can cause serious harm, including:
- Constant pain
- Pain when urinating
- Infections, which can lead to infertility
- Pain during sexual activity
- Bleeding, cysts or abcesses
- Depression, PTSD, flashbacks or self-harm
- Problems during labour and childbirth, putting the lives of both mother and child at risk
- Death from blood loss or infection
We can support you through our helpline if you believe that you or a loved one are being pressured into FGM, so please give us a call if you need guidance.
If you have undergone FGM we can support you emotionally, whether you wish to report those that did the procedure or not.
There is also medical support available to survivors of FGM, from counselling to surgery to alleviate symptoms. Please reach out to your GP or other healthcare professional if you wish to access this support.
If you relate to this information you are not alone; there is help available.
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