Female genital mutilation (FGM) also known as female circumcision or cutting, is a collective term for procedures which include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs, or injury to the female genital organs, for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.
FGM is medically unnecessary, is extremely painful, and has serious health consequences, both at the time of the procedure, and in later life. It can also be psychologically damaging.
A number of girls die as a direct result of the procedure, from blood loss or infection. In the longer term, women who have undergone some form of FGM are twice as likely to die in childbirth, and four times more likely to give birth to a still born child.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it
- illegal to practice FGM in the UK
- illegal to assist a girl to mutilate her own genitalia
- illegal to take girls who are British Nationals or UK residents abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country;
- Illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad.
An offence under this act has a maximum penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine.
The Serious Crime Act 2015 creates a further offence of ‘Failing to protect a child against Female Genital Mutilation’. Even where a parent/carer does not believe in the practice and does not consent to the procedure being carried out; if they expose the child in their care to a risk of FGM being carried out, they will be guilty of an offence and are liable to arrest and prosecution.
Female genital mutilation is physical abuse, and whilst it is perceived by parents not to be an act of hate, it is harmful, it is child abuse and it is unlawful. It has long lasting significant implications for those who have the procedure performed on them.
The Law provides protection for survivors of FGM, in that where FGM is disclosed they are granted lifelong anonymity. This means that the press are not allowed to report any names, or identify individuals in any way in news articles.
There are also Civil Orders that can be obtained to protect individuals from being cut, or being harassed/threatened or pressured to be cut themselves, or have their children cut. Anyone can apply for an order, and it is free of charge. You can find more information here (link to FGMPO guidance)
If you have information
- about children believed to be at risk of FGM,
- about children believed to have been subject to FGM,
- about people believed to be carrying out FGM,
you are urged to contact West Midlands Police on 101, or alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more information visit the West Midlands Police website http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/advice-centre/help-and-advice/honour-abuse/female-genital-mutilation/
DC 9773 Gill Squires, West Midlands Police – 07990 634104
Twitter – @wmpsentinel
Resources for Police Officers include:
Home Office ‘passport’
West Midlands Police Poster (English)
Please ensure that you consult your local Safeguarding procedures in terms of local referral pathways and procedures.