What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genital organs are injured or changed and there is no medical reason for this. FGM is therefore a form of child abuse and violence against women and is illegal in England and Wales under the FGM Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”).

The age at which FGM is carried out varies enormously according to the community. The procedure may be carried out shortly after birth, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during a woman’s first pregnancy. It is frequently a very traumatic and violent act for the victim and can cause harm in many ways. The practice can cause severe pain and there may be immediate and/or long-term health consequences, including mental health problems, difficulties in childbirth, causing danger to the child and mother; and/or death.

Section 5B of the 2003 Act1 introduces a mandatory reporting duty which requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s which they identify in the course of their professional work to the police. The duty came into force on 31 October 2015.

Prevalence of FGM in England and Wales

The prevalence of FGM in England and Wales is difficult to estimate because of the hidden nature of the crime. However, a 2015 study11 estimated that:

  • approximately 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM (see Annex B for risk factors); and
  • approximately 103,000 women aged 15-49 and approximately 24,000 women aged 50 and over who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM. In addition, approximately 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM


NSPCC FGM helpline: 0800 028 3550


 Daughters of Eve (a non-profit organisation that works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from FGM).