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What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) covers a range of procedures which involve

the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason.¹

There are four main ‘types’ of FGM:

  • type 1 (clitoridectomy) – removing part or all of the clitoris
  • type 2 (excision) – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia
  • type 3 (infibulation) – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia
  • other harmful procedures to the female genitals, including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the area²

FGM most often happens when girls are between the ages of 4-10 before they enter puberty, however it can also happen to them when they are babies or toddlers.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act³ (which replaced the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act, 1985) was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in March 2004. The Act:

  • makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK
  • makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM, whether or not it is lawful in that country (known as extraterritoriality)
  • makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad
  • has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine

Anyone affected by these forms of violence and abuse should be able to access help and support when they need it and every case should be taken seriously. The Live Fear Free Helpline is a 24 hour helpline for women, children and men experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or other forms of violence against women on 0808 80 10 800.


¹ http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/female_genital_mutilation/

² http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/female-genital-mutilation/Pages/Introduction.aspx

³ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/31/contents

If you're affected by domestic abuse, sexual violence or any other form of VAWG you can contact the @LiveFearFree Helpline 0808 8010800

About 14 hours ago from WelshWomensAid's Twitter