Female Genital Mutilation and harmful cultural practices

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done.

It's also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse.

It's very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.

Types of FGM

There are four main types of FGM:

FGM is often performed by traditional circumcisers or cutters who do not have any medical training. However, in some countries it may be done by a medical professional.

Harmful effects

There are no health benefits to FGM and it can cause serious harm, including:

Responsibilities of health professionals and the law

FGM is illegal in the UK.

If you're a health professional caring for a patient under 18 who has undergone FGM, you have professional responsibilities to safeguard and protect her.

It is an offence to:

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison. Anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to seven years in prison.

For more information and links to some informative films on this subject:

www.england.nhs.uk

www.gov.uk

Harmful Cultural Practices

These include:

Where parents, families and the child themselves believe that an evil force has entered a child and is controlling them, the belief includes the child being able to use the evil force to harm others. This evil is variously known as black magic, kindoki, ndoki, the evil eye, djinns, voodoo, obeah. Children are called witches or sorcerers. (London safeguarding Children Procedures, 2017)

Remember: if you are concerned by the presentation of the child, the child’s behaviour or the parent/carer’s behaviour then: