Female Genital Mutilation

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. It can involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. 

The FGM procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and it is illegal to perform or force someone to undergo FGM in the UK.

FGM is considered a form of child and domestic abuse and is recognised as a human rights violation by the United Nations.

There is no justification for FGM under any circumstances. 

FGM can lead to problems with:

  • Chronic vaginal and pelvic infections which can lead to infertility
  • Difficulty passing urine due to the scar/ urine tract infections
  • Painful and prolonged periods due to vaginal closure by the scar
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Issues with labour and delivery
  • Psychological problems (such as flash-backs, anxiety and depression)


The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously according to the community. The procedure may be carried out when the girl is newborn, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of five and eight.


FGM is illegal in the UK

FGM has been a specific criminal offence in the UK since 1985. The legislation was modernised by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 and now the maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years in prison.

Amendments to the Act in 2003 and 2015 included the offence of assisting a girl to carry out FGM on herself while also extending the protection for any UK national or permanent UK resident taken outside the UK as well as introducing a new civil law measure, the FGM Protection Order.

If you are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, please ensure this information goes to social care or the police (if you wish you can do this anonymously through Crimestoppers  or the NSPCC FGM Helpline). They can then investigate and protect any girls or women involved, and work to ensure they get the help and support required.

Find out more about applying for a FGM Protection Order at www.gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation-protection-order


FGM Protection Order

The 2003 Act (as amended by the 2015 Act) created the FGM Protection Order, which enables a court to make an order with the purpose of protecting a girl or women against a genital mutilation offence and protect a girl or woman against who an offence has already been committed.

Applications can be made, without needing to go to court first, by the victim or a relevant third party such as the Police, the Local Authority or similar organisation with a duty to protect children and investigate the welfare of vulnerable persons in their area.

A FGM Protection Order can have a wide remit and contain any prohibitions, restrictions, requirements or other safeguards that the court may consider appropriate.

Find out more about applying for a FGM Protection Order at www.gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation-protection-order


If you are worried you or someone you know may be at risk of FGM or has suffered FGM already

Locally you can contact Bedfordshire Police on 101 (your call will be put through to a specialist team), Luton Safeguarding Childrens Board, or, if applicable, Luton Safeguarding Adults team. Other agencies that can offer assistance are Luton All Womens Centre, Womens Aid in Luton and Victim Support.

If it is an emergency, call Bedfordshire Police on 999.

Nationally you can speak to the NSPCC FGM Helpline on 0800 028 3550, Childline, the Daughters of Eve, or IKWRO.

Find out more about applying for a FGM Protection Order at www.gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation-protection-order


FORWARD (Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development) is committed to gender equality and safeguarding the rights of African girls and women. They are a leading African diaspora women’s campaign and support organisation. They work through partnerships in the UK, Europe and Africa to transform lives, tackling discriminatory practices that affect the dignity and wellbeing of girls and women. Their focus is on female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and obstetric fistula.

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Advice for women and girls on honour based violence, forced marriage, FGM and domestic violence. Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Dari, Pashtu and English.

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