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Female genital mutilation


Female genital mutilation is a collective term used for procedures, such as female circumcision, which include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs, or injury to the female genital organs for a cultural or non-therapeutic reason.

If you have concerns that a girl or young women may be taken overseas for FGM then please contact the FCO on 0207 008 1500 or email

The Facts



The Law

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


The Act


Spotting the Signs


Suspicions may arise in a number of ways that a child is being prepared for FGM to take place abroad. These include knowing that the family belongs to a community in which FGM is practised and is making preparations for the child to take a holiday, arranging vaccinations or planning absence from school. The child may also talk about a 'special procedure/ceremony' that is going to take place. Girls are at particular risk of FGM during summer holidays. This is the time when families may take their children abroad for the procedure. Many girls may not be aware that they may be at risk of undergoing FGM.


The National FGM Centre has a useful interactive world map showing affected countries.


If you have concerns that a girl or young woman may be taken overseas for FGM then please contact the FCO on 0207 008 1500 or email


From October 2015, the new duty for professionals working in the "regulated professions", to notify the police if they discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl who is under 18 will come into force. Regulated professionals will cover healthcare professionals, teachers and social care workers. A failure to report the discovery in the course of their work could result in a referral to their professional body.


Breast Flattening


“Breast Flattening” is the process whereby young pubescent girls' breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely.  Much like FGM, it is a harmful practice, child abuse and is illegal in the UK. It is classified as physical abuse and therefore professionals must follow the SET Procedures


Read more about Breast Flattening.


Child abuse linked to faith or belief

The National FGM Centre has released two YouTube videos discussing child abuse linked to faith or belief. The first is an animation telling the story of young boy in the UK who was accused of witchcraft by his aunt and uncle; the second offers advice to professionals about how to work with children who have been accused of witchcraft. The National FGM Centre has more information on abuse linked to faith or belief.


Branded a witch - Mardoche's story (YouTube video)


Mardoche Yembi - advice for professionals (YouTube video)


Useful Documents


National FGM Centre


FGM Resource Pack


FGM Assessment Tool


Female Genital Mutilation: The Facts


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


Information on the Mandatory Reporting Duty


FORWARD films:


The True Story of Ghati and Rhobi 

My Body, My Rules


'Petals' - App containing information about FGM, personal stories from those who have been affected, links to educational films, a quiz and tips on how to get involved in campaigning to end the practice.


Petals for Professionals - App provides access to information and knowledge about FGM; the health impacts; the legal responsibilities of professionals; advice on initiating conversations; information for specific professions; and where to get support and advice.


Practice guidance for those working or volunteering with families


Multi-agency statutory guidance (updated July 2020).


SET Health FGM flowchart


SET Multi-Agency FGM flowchart