FGM is sometimes known as 'female genital cutting' or female circumcision. Communities tend to use local names for referring to this practice, including 'Sunna'.
FGM is considered a grave violation of the rights of girls and women.
FGM is usually carried out by the older women in a practicing community, for whom it way of gaining prestige and can be a lucrative source of income in some communities. The arrangements for the procedure usually include the child being held down on the floor by several women and the procedure carried out without medical expertise, attention to hygiene and anaesthesia. The instruments used include un-sterilised household knives, razor blades, broken glass and sharpened stones. In addition the child is subjected to the procedure unexpectedly.
For further information please read this leaflet:
WHY DOES FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION HAPPEN
As stated by the Safeguarding children at risk of abuse through female genital mutilation guidelines, Parents who support the practice of FGM say that they are acting in the child's best interests. The reasons they give include that it:
Female Genital Mutilation is not a religious requirement or obligation. FGM has no link with Islam and is neither a requirement nor a Sunna in Islam. Globally most Muslims do not practise FGM. FGM is not condoned by Christian teachings or the bible
Whilst FGM is often seen as an act of love, rather than cruelty, it causes significant harm, constitutes physical and emotional abuse and can cause death. Female Genital Mutilation is considered to be child abuse in the United Kingdom and is a violation of the child's right to life, their bodily integrity as well as their right to health.
One of the main challenges when dealing with Female Genital Mutilation is to remember that "Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness" Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien
Professionals need to ask appropriate, safe questions if they suspect a child is at risk of FGM. It needs to be accepted and understood the FGM is happening in the UK and it is a child protection matter. The links between Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage should be in the forefront of professionals' minds'.
LEGAL OVERVIEW IN THE UK
The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003:
To learn more about Female Genital Mutilation and legislation please visit:
WHO IS AFFEECTED
The World Health Organisation estimates that between 130-140 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation and up to two million girls per year undergo some form of the procedure each year.
The age at which girls are subjected to Female Genital Mutilation varies greatly, from shortly after birth to any time up to adulthood. The average age is 10 to 12 years.
To find out more about Safeguarding children at risk of abuse through female genital mutilation, including warning signs to look out for, please click here
Where to go for further help or information:
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
020 7008 1500
Child Abuse Investigation
Command/ Project Azure
020 7167 2888
Child Protection Helpline
0808 800 5000 (advice for adults worried about a child
Foundation for Women's Health Research and Developments (FORWARD)
National Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)