Female Genital Mutilation

Understanding FGM

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for “procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (World Health Organisation, 2013).

The practice is medically unnecessary, extremely painful and has serious health consequences, both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life. The procedure is typically performed on girls aged between 4 and 13, but in some cases it is performed on new-born infants or on young women before marriage or pregnancy.

FGM has been a criminal offence in the U.K. since the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 was passed. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced the 1985 Act and made it an offence for the first time for UK nationals permanent or habitual UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal.

The rights of women and girls are enshrined by various universal and regional instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa. All these documents highlight the right for girls and women to live free from gender discrimination, free from torture, to live in dignity and with bodily integrity.

For more information on FGM please view the LSCB FGM procedure.