Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is when a female’s genitals are purposely cut or altered for nonmedical reasons. FGM is also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘cutting’, or other names including ‘sunna’, ‘gudniin’, ‘halalays’, ‘tahur’, ‘megrez’, and ‘khitan’.
FGM is usually carried out on girls between the ages of birth and 15 years old, though can be carried out during adolescence or before a young woman marries or during pregnancy. The practice is carried out for a number of cultural, religious, and social reasons, though it isn’t required by any religion and there are no health benefits to FGM.
FGM is a form of child abuse. The child is often forcibly restrained while the painful procedure is performed by someone who has no medical training and uses scalpels, scissors, knives, or razor blades, without giving the child anaesthetic or antiseptic treatment. FGM can cause long-lasting damage to the physical and emotional health of the child.
Up to 6,500 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK each year. More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated.
FGM is against the law, and it is also illegal for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to undergo FGM; anyone found guilty can face 14 years in prison.
Some key terms to be aware of:
- ‘Cutter’: A cutter is somebody who carries out FGM
- ‘Cutting season’: This refers to the Summer months (July, August, and September), when children are on break from school. Girls might be flown abroad for FGM during this time period.