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Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

An estimated 137,000 women in the UK are affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). However, the true extent is unknown, due to the “hidden” nature of the crime.

The girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to “heal” before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. The procedure is traditionally carried out by a woman with no medical training.

There are no health benefits to FGM. Removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

Organisations Working on Issues Around FGM

POLICE SERVICE: Metropolitan Police Service/Project Azure, Tel 020 7161 2888


HELPLINES: NSPCC FGM Helpline, 24-hour helpline, 0800 028 3550
Black Association of Women Step Out (BAWSO), 24-hour helpline, 0800 731 8147
ChildLine, 24-hour helpline for children, 0800 1111


Books about FGM

  • Comfort Momoh, Female Genital Mutilation (ISBN 9781857756937)
  • Waris Dirie, Desert Flower (ISBN 9780688158231)
  • Susannah Carlton, Biting the Stick (ISBN 9781497363489)