What is FGM?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that FGM – Female Genital Mutilation –
“comprises of all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”
FGM is a form of child abuse and an abuse of female adults (usually catergorised under honour based violence) and causes long lasting physical and psychological damage. It can also be known as Female Circumcision and Female Genital Cutting.
Prevalence of FGM in the UK
Due to the hidden nature of this crime it is difficult to estimate the true scale of FGM, however, a recent study by Equality Now estimated up to 60,000 girls had been born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone the practice, therefore they are at high risk of FGM. Over 137,000 women in England and Wales are already living with the consequences of FGM.
UK communities that are most at risk of FGM include Kenyans, Somalis, Sudanese, Sierra Leoneans, Egyptians, Nigerians, Eritreans and Ethiopians. Non-African communities that are at risk of FGM include Yemeni, Kurdish, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani and Indian women (Muslim Bohra Community).
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 (Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985). The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years imprisonment and made it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where FGM is legal.