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Female genital mutilation


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for nonmedical reasons. It is also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna.

Practising FGM in the UK has been a criminal offence since 1985. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act and revised it to set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years’ imprisonment and make it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:

  • Perform FGM overseas
  • Take a UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM
  • Arrange for someone to come from overseas to the UK to perform FGM

The law changed in October 2015, making mandatory reporting of FGM directly to the police, if:

  • They are informed by a girl under the age of 18 that she has undergone an act of FGM  or
  • They observe physical signs that an act of FGM may have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.

The duty does not apply where a woman over the age of 18 discloses she had FGM when she was under 18.The duty only applies in cases where the victim discloses. If someone else, such as a parent or guardian, discloses that a girl under 18 has had FGM, a report to the police is not mandatory. However, in these circumstances disclosures should still be handled in line with wider safeguarding responsibilities.

Complying with the duty does not breach any confidentiality requirement which might otherwise apply.

Professionals should make the report as soon after the case has been discovered. Best practice is within 1 working day, but in exceptional cases there is a maximum timeframe of 1 month from when the discovery is made.

How to report FGM case?

Please right link to access the ‘FGM Training Package for NHS Organisations’.

For support in decision making around child protection cases contact the designated nurses for child protection 02476 246019.

If there is no immediate danger or you need advice or information, you should call the Referral and Assessment Service on 024 7678 8555.

Dr Kavita Goswami leads on the diagnosis and management of FGM. Please refer through NHS e-Referral Service if patient need to be seen at the hospital.

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