Welcome to the Wandsworth Family Information Service FGM section.
Click here to dowload Wandsworth FGM Pathways.
Here, you can find useful information about FGM, download the Council's latest strategy on dealing with the issue and find useful contact information if you, or someone you know, has been affected by FGM or if you are worried about a girl who may be at risk of undergoing the procedure.
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
FGM, also known as Female Genital Cutting or Female Circumcision is an extremely harmful practice with devastating health consequences for girls and women. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure.
The practice is not to be confused with male circumcision as it is completely unrelated and not accepted in any major religion.
Where does FGM take place?
FGM is a cultural practice which commonly takes place in at least 28 African countries and some countries in the Middle-East and Asia. There has also been a worrying increase of the practice taking place within migrant communities in other parts of the world, including the UK. It is estimated that 20,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK
Types of Female Genital Mutilation
Type 1: "Clitoridectomy"
This can involve either removing the clitoris or the clitoral hood
Type 2: "Excision"
This involves the removal of the clitoris and inner lips of the vagina.
Type 3: "Infibulation"
This involves cutting the clitoris, inner and outer lips of the vagina and sewing or sealing them together, leaving only a small opening.
Type 4: "Other"
All other harmful practices for non-medical purposes including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning of female genitalia
FGM is a Human Rights Violation and is illegal in the UK
The FGM Act 2003 makes it a criminal offence to:
- Carry out FGM in the UK or to take a girl abroad for the procedure
- Assist with carrying out FGM in the UK
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in the UK; or to
- Assist someone from outside of the UK to carry out FGM on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
A person found guilty of the offence can face 14 years in prison, a fine - or both.
FGM can and very often does occur as a result of family pressure. Wandsworth can provide free and confidential advice to those who are worried about themselves or someone in their family, especially mothers who are under pressure to perform FGM on their daughter.
FGM has harmful consequences. There are no health benefits
There are no medically justifiable reasons to carry out FGM; it does not enhance fertility, nor does it make childbirth safer. To the contrary, FGM victims suffer from significant immediate and long-term health risks.
Some examples of immediate health risks include:
- Severe pain and shock
- Severe blood loss
- Difficulty in passing urine
- HIV transmission
- Life changing injuries; or even
There are also long-term health risks which include:
- Urinary and menstrual problems
- Recurring risk of infection, including: cysts, abscesses, ulcers, chronic pelvic infections and urinary tract infections
- Psychological consequences, including: post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and severe depression.
FGM can affect a girl's future relationships and may require her to undergo surgery. Women who have undergone FGM are also likely to experience difficulty in childbirth and suffer from sexual dysfunction.
Who is at risk?
FGM is most commonly carried out when a girl is 5-8 years old. However it can happen at any age before a girl or woman is married or pregnant. Some girls are babies when FGM is carried out.
In the UK, girls from the Somali, Kenyan, Sudanese, Sierra Leonean, Egyptian, Nigerian, Eritrean, Yemeni, Kurdish and Indonesian communities are most at risk of FGM.
The Risk Identification Poster provides guidance to professionals to identify girls who have had or are at risk of FGM.
From 31 October 2015 there is a mandatory duty requiring regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report ‘known’ (visually identified or verbally disclosed) cases of FGM in under 18s to the police. The duty will not apply in relation to at risk or suspected cases, or in cases where the woman is over 18. In these cases, professionals should follow existing local safeguarding procedures.
If you suspect a girl has undergone, or is at risk of FGM:
Call Children's Social Care - 020 8871 6622 or 020 8871 6000 (after hours) and the Metropolitan Police on 101
If a girl is at immediate risk of harm, dial 999
For further information:
NSPCC - 0800 028 3550 (24 hour help line)
FORWARD - 020 8960 4000
Local Safeguarding Leads - 020 8871 5188 / 020 8725 3757 / 07787 691076 (within working hours)
Please refer to our FGM Services in London page for a list of clinics and other FGM related services serving the borough.
Help girls and women get the support they need
Victims of FGM may need medical or psychological support. If you know someone who has had FGM, encourage them to speak to their GP or call 020 8871 6622 for advice.