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Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation

The facts:



The law:


The Female Genital Mutilation Act was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in March 2004. The Act makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK and makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country. It makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad and has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine. 


Multi-agency statutory guidance (updated October 2018).


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.


What to do if concerned


FGM is child abuse and all agencies working with children in Essex must follow the SET Child Protection Procedures in the case of any concerns.


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


Since July 2015 it has been possible to obtain a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order through the Family Court (like Forced Marriage Protection Orders). If you are concerned that someone may be taken abroad for FGM you can apply for a Protection Order. The terms of the order can be flexible and the court can include whatever terms it considers necessary and appropriate to protect the girl or woman.


National FGM Centre


FGM Resources from the National FGM Centre


FGM Assessment Tool


FGM Poster Essex - Barnardos National FGM Centre 



Female Genital Mutilation: The Facts


Serious Crime Act (FGM) Factsheet



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.