Types of abuse, exploitation and neglect

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutation is child abuse and is illegal. Health and social care professionals and teachers can all play an important role in safeguarding girls at risk of FGM, and is within standard safeguarding responsibilities.

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision or cutting) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is a violent manifestation of a gender inequality and is a deeply entrenched social and cultural norm in many communities. It can also happen to women and girls from non-traditional affected communities and woman and girls from a dual heritage background.

There is no medical reason for FGM and there are no medical benefits. It can cause serious harm physically as well as emotionally, with both having long term consequences.

Key facts about FGM

Women with FGM can receive support and treatment from their GP or from FGM support clinics offering specialist services. There are specialist paediatric services available. Information about clinics and locations can be found on the NHS website.

Mandatory reporting of FGM

Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales must make a report to the police where, in the course of their professional duties, they either: are informed by a girl under 18 that an act of FGM has been carried out on her; or observe physical signs which appear to show that an act of FGM has been carried out.

Professionals should call the 101 non-emergency police telephone number to make this report, alongside local safeguarding processes. Non-regulated professionals should urgently follow their safeguarding processes. If in doubt, ask your local safeguarding lead.

If professionals, whether under mandatory duty or not, suspect that a girl is at risk of FGM, they should urgently follow their normal safeguarding procedures.

If the girl is in imminent danger, they should call the police on 999.