Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The term ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM) encompasses all procedures that either:
- Fully or partially remove external female genitalia, or
- Injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is usually carried out on girls between the ages of 5 and 14 years, but younger girls and adult women are sometimes victims of this procedure.
FGM is extremely traumatic. It can lead to serious, life-long physical and mental health problems.
What the law says about FGM
Internationally, FGM is recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and when performed on a child, is a violation of the Rights of the Child.
In the UK, under the FGM Act 2003 and now extended to apply abroad under the Serious Crime Act 2015, it is an offence for any person (regardless of their nationality or residence status) to:
- Perform FGM;
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself;
- Assist a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
The Serious Crime Act 2015 also includes:
- Provision of lifelong anonymity in the media to victims of FGM;
- A new offence of ‘failing to protect a girl from FGM’ – each person responsible for the girl at the time the FGM occurred will be liable.
- FGM Protection Orders - for the purposes of protecting a girl against the commission of a FGM offence or protecting a girl against whom such an offence has been committed. Anyone can now apply to the Court to get a Protection Order to protect a girl that may be at risk of FGM.
- A new mandatory reporting duty requiring specified regulated professionals (healthcare, social care and teachers) in England and Wales to make a report to the police. The duty applies where, in the course of their professional duties, a professional discovers that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl aged under 18 (at the time of the discovery).
View the Serious Crime Act 2015 FGM Factsheet.
Last updated: 12 July 2023