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Female genital mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female Genital Mutilation is also known as female cutting or female circumcision.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as:

"All procedures which involve the partial or total removal of the external genitalia or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons“

FGM is classified into four types:

Type 1 - Partial or total removal of the clitoris or the clitoral hood

Type 2 - Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora

Type 3 - Narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and sewing over the outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris or inner labia.

Type 4 - All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, stretching and cauterising the genital area.

FGM can have severe consequences, both psychological and emotional and the medical consequences include extreme pain, shock, infection, haemorrhage, infertility, incontinence, HIV, urinary tract infections, menstrual obstruction, and death.

Where does FGM take place?

Globally, 100 to 140 million women and girls have undergone FGM and a further 3 million girls undergo FGM every year in Africa. Most females affected live in 28 African countries and also parts of the Middle East and Asia. National FGM prevalence rates in the African region and Yemen vary from as low as 1% to 90% or more. The highest prevalence rates of 90% or more are found in Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea and Sierra Leone. In other countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Senegal, the prevalence rates vary between 20% to 50%.

Growing migration has increased the number of girls and women living outside their country of origin who have undergone female genital mutilation or who may be at risk of being subjected to the practice. Except for a few cases where FGM is performed on adult women, FGM is usually performed on girls under the age of 18 years.

​Why is FGM practiced?

There are huge pressures on families and communities in the UK and abroad to have FGM performed on their girls. Many children and women have FGM forced on them and have no choice as to whether it happens or not..

Some people practice FGM as part of their religion and there can be huge pressures to make girls have it done. However FGM is not recommended by any religion or in any religious texts, but might have become symbolic in some communities as a demonstration of faith.

FGM is often carried out to curb sexuality and to preserve girls’ cultural identity. In some communities where FGM takes place, marriage is seen as necessary for a woman's honour and survival. A woman who has not undergone FGM may stand little chance of marriage and may not be accepted by her community.

The strong cultural belief that FGM equates to purity, cleanliness and strong morals is a major factor in the continuation of the practice

Parents may require support to safeguard their girls from this practice.

FGM is Child Abuse and against the law

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal to:


  • Perform FGM in the UK
  • Assist or arrange for anyone to carry out FGM abroad on girls who are British Nationals or permanent residents of the UK
  • Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself
  • Penalty of up to 14 years in prison or a fine.
  • It is also an Offence if you fail to protect a girl from risk of FGM


City Of London Police aim is to:



  • Identify, support, and protect victims or potential victims of FGM
  • Work with support networks to ensure victims or potential victims feel safe
  • Find those involved in FGM and bring them to justice
  • Provide guidance and advice where FGM is suspected
  • Increase public awareness
  • Engage with and establish strong links with practicing communities
  • Ensure a​ Vulnerable Victim Coordinator is available to talk to in person or by telephone (independent of the Police) contact details Ayesha Fordham 07944 634946
What to do if you suspect FGM?

There are a number of indicators that a girl could have been subjected to FGM. These may include a prolonged absence from school with noticeable behavior change on return, recent travel to a practicing country, lengthy periods out of the classroom, frequent visits to the school nurse. This list is not exhaustive.

If you have any concerns, share the information and report it

You can report to the following agencies:


  • Your local Children's Social Care NSPCC FGM free phone helpline 0800 028 3550 (information may be passed anonymously) 
  • Crimestoppers free phone 0800 555 111 (information may be passed anonymously)​
  • 999 (for urgent calls) or the non-emergency Police line 101


What to do if you suspect a girl to be at risk of FGM?

Suspicions may arise in a number of ways that a girl is being prepared for FGM to take place. If you have any concerns, report them to any of the free phone numbers above.

Important: If you feel in immediate danger, or suspect a child may be in immediate danger, you should call 999 immediately.

I just need support and/or advice

For assistance with regard to all other aspects of FGM, including details of Clinics and Therapeutic services, contact:


  • City of London police - Independent Vulnerable victim coordinator is available to talk to in person or by telephone. Contact Ayesha Fordham on 07944 634946.
  • GOV.UK -

  • NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) helpline - Phone: 0800 028 3550 or email
  • Daughters of Eve - 07983030488.
  • IKWRO - Phone: 0207 920 6460 or
  • 28toomany - 28 Too Many is a values based FGM charity - 0208 447 1904
  • Black Women’s Health & Family Support - 020 8980 3503
  • Childline - Telephone: 0800 1111 (24 hr free helpline for children)
  • AFRUCA (Africans Unite Against Child Abuse) - 020 7704 2261
  • Victim support (supportline) - 0808 16 89 111
  • FGM National Clinical Group -/o University College London Hospital NHS Trust
    Elizabeth Garret Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6DH
  • Foundation for Women’s Health Research & Development (FORWARD)
    020 8960 4000 or - Add-765 – 767 Harrow Road, London NW10 5NY 


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