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Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of violence against women and girls and it is considered child abuse and is illegal. It comprises of all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It may be carried out at any time in a girl’s life, from baby to womanhood, but the most common age for those FGM cases where the age is known is 5 to 9 years old. FGM can be seen as a pathway to womanhood and can also be a condition of marriage. Some communities believe that if a girl has not had it done she is deemed unhealthy, unclean, or unworthy. Parents can have very strong beliefs, genuinely thinking they are doing the right thing for their daughter, and in communities where all females have the procedure it can seem normal, then making it very difficult for girls to challenge this tradition.

In November 2020, the LSCP completed a multi-agency audit of six cases of girls and young women who were referred for support in relation to FGM. Read the report here. 

The Law

In the UK, anyone found guilty of an FGM offence or of helping somebody commit one, faces up to 14 years in prison, a fine, or both - regardless of where in the world the FGM takes place. Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl under the age of 16 from risk of FGM faces up to 7 years in prison, a fine, or both.

 Your duty to report

It is mandatory to report cases of "known" FGM to the Police. The duty applies to all regulated professionals working within health or social care, and teachers. For more information, see the NHS flowchart for the mandatory reporting process of FGM.

...may be at risk of FGM:

  • knowing both that the family of a girl belongs to a community in which FGM is practised and is making preparations for the child to take a holiday, arranging vaccinations or planning absence from school

  • a child may also talk about being taken “home” for a special visit to become a woman or a special procedure/ceremony that is going to take place

  • a child may say an older female relative is coming especially to see her

...might have undergone FGM:

  • prolonged absence from school or other activities with noticeable behaviour change on return. They may become withdrawn and possibly with bladder or menstrual problems

  • find it difficult to stand or sit still and look uncomfortable, or may complain about pain between their legs

  • talk of something somebody did to them that they are not allowed to talk about

  • spend longer in the toilet than usual; because of bleeding and/or infection.

  • have frequent vaginal, urinal, or pelvic infections

  • have blood born infections, including Hepatitis B & C, and HIV

  • be reluctant to undergo any medical examinations

  • may ask for help, but not be explicit about the problem due to fear or embarrassment

Possible signs someone...

Support & Resources

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If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999.

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Make a Safeguarding Referral

Please call and follow up with a Multi-agency Referral Form

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Specialist Local Support

AAF provides confidential counselling and support for victim survivors of FGM & advise for practitioners. 

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National & Lambeth Guidance

Use the National and Lambeth Multi-agency Guidance for Safeguarding against FGM to aid decision-making. 

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FGM Passport

Drop-in confidential counselling and advice as well as group meetings for women in Lambeth.

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Local Support

The Gaia Centre offers a range of services to those in Lambeth experiencing gender-based violence, including FGM.

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FGM Schools' Guidance

Supporting schools to understand their role in safeguarding girls, engaging parents and teaching about FGM. (June 2019)


FGM Resource Pack

This resource pack supports professionals to fulfil their FGM safeguarding responsibilities.

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London Procedures

Drop-in confidential counselling and advice as well as group meetings for women in Lambeth.

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