Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision or female cutting) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. 

To view the Pan Bedfordshire Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse Strategy please click here.


Key Facts

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

The Law and FGM

It is illegal to practice FGM in the UK and is child abuse.

It is an offence to:

  • perform FGM (including taking a child abroad for FGM)
  • help a girl perform FGM on herself in or outside the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM in the UK
  • help anyone perform FGM outside the UK on a UK national or resident
  • fail to protect a girl for whom you're responsible from FGM

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison.

Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to 7 years in prison.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in March 2004.

From 31 October 2015 onwards, regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales will have a mandatory requirement to report visually confirmed or verbally disclosed cases of FGM in girls under 18 to the police. Please click on link to procedural information: Home Office Mandatory reporting procedural information


Help and Support

All agencies working with children in Central Bedfordshire must follow the Pan Bedfordshire Procedures in the case of any concerns.

If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999.

If you are concerned that someone may be at risk, please contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

If you are concerned that a British citizen may be taken overseas for the purpose of FGM, please call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office FCO on 0207 008 1500 or email fgm@fco.gov.uk.

Many girls may not be aware that they may be at risk of undergoing FGM. Girls are at particular risk of FGM during summer holidays as this is the time when families may take their children abroad for the procedure.


Useful Resources:

Forced Marriage: You Have the Right to Choose - Posters 

NHS Choices Information on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation: The Facts

Safeguarding Women and Girls at Risk of FGM – Guidance for NHS Organisations

Commissioning services to support women and girls with FGM

FGM E Learning 

The 3 Safeguarding Children Boards across Bedfordshire have developed some One Minute Information Guides for professionals in relation to FGM, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse that can be accessed by clicking the links below:

One Minute Guide - FGM

One Minute Guide - Forced Marriage

One Minute Guide - Honour Based Abuse

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