Female Genital Mutilation FAQs

1. What is ‘FGM’?

FGM stands for ‘female genital mutilation’. It used to be called ‘female circumcision’. It is the cutting, stretching or incising of the female genitals for cultural or traditional reasons. The severity of FGM can come in different forms.

2. Is FGM illegal?

FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985 when the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act became law. There have been no successful prosecutions under this law nor the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act which replaced the earlier legislation. However things are about to change due to the new provisions of the Serious Crime Act 2015. For more information on this contact our specialist Cris McCurley

3. I am a Social worker and suspect that a child I am working with may be taken to Africa for FGM. The parents have said that they will not do this to her. What should I do? 

Under the Serious Crime Act there is a special provision which makes the Local Authority liable for a criminal offence if you failed to protect a child in your care. You should notify your legal team immediately.

4. I am from Somalia. I have just had a baby girl and my family are insisting that we return to Somalia so that they can meet her. I know that they are planning to have her cut (FGM). It is hard to stand up to the elders in my family but I don’t want my child to be cut as I was. Should I still go? 

There is a duty on you to protect her. If you do not, and she is cut, when you return to the UK you could be arrested under the new criminal law. If you are convicted you can get up to 7 years in prison for failing to protect your baby girl.

5. I don’t want to go to the police or get children’s social care involved. Is there another way that I can protect my child?

You can apply for one of the brand new FGM protection orders in the family court. This can protect your daughter from being cut in the UK or abroad. It can stop her from being taken out of the country and it can keep people who may cut her away from her. 

6. I am worried it will get into the media. I would be really ashamed if this happened and it would also shame my family.

Under the Serious Crime Act there can be no naming or reporting of an FGM victim or potential victim. Anyone breaking this law, even on social media, can be guilty of a serious crime.