Female Genital Mutilation
Key facts about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons
The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women
Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new-born deaths
More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated
More than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and the trend towards medicalization is increasing
FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15
FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women
The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years in prison
Source: World Health Organisation - February 2014
The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) SCPs' multi-agency safeguarding procedures relating to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) have been updated and should be used by practitioners with immediate effect.
Suspicions may arise in a number of ways that a child is being prepared for FGM to take place abroad. If any agency becomes aware of a child who may have been subjected to or is at risk of FGM they must make a referral to Children's Social Care.
All professionals need to consider whether any other indicators exist that FGM may have or has already taken place. For example:
Preparations are being made to take a long holiday - arranging vaccinations or planning an absence from school
The child has changed in behaviour after a prolonged absence from school
The child has health problems, particularly bladder or menstrual problems
You are aware of women in the family who have had the procedure. This may prompt concern as to the potential risk of harm to other female children
School awareness raising for Summer Holidays
2017 FGM Awareness campaign and YouTube video from Dr Sethi
Barnardo's Children Charity advice for professionals, including teachers
As summer approaches Barnardo's Children Charity has advice for professionals, including teachers of the signs a girl may be at risk of undergoing FGM.
Visit the National FGM Centre's website.
Information on help and advice that is available from the government website.
2017 Red Triangle Campaign
To mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the National Police Chiefs' Council has partnered with the Freedom Charity to launch a UK-wide campaign aimed at raising awareness. A red triangle symbol will be used to help encourage people to provide police with information that can help detect and prevent FGM in the UK and abroad.
The Red Triangle Campaign aims to help eradicate Female Genital Mutilation FGM/C in a generation. 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation. Not only as a nation but as human beings we must be serious about combating this globally.
The campaign involves wearing a small downward facing red triangle to symbolise solidarity against Female Genital Mutilation. Carrying out Female Genital Mutilation for no medical reason is a deplorable crime which violates girls and women's human rights. It deprives rights to basic health, freedom and their human rights to be women. It must be stopped.
FGM is happening here - It Has To Stop
New film urges people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to look out for and report signs of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Hard hitting film spells out the facts and dangers about FGM
Impending summer holiday season a peak time for FGM activity
Girls at risk of "procedure that will devastate her life for ever" warns leading FGM expert
The film has been launched by the LLR LSCBs and three Clinical Commissioning Groups across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. It urges people to be on the look-out for signs of FGM and report them to the police.
FGM is any procedure which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female FGM genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
All types of FGM have been illegal in the UK since the 1985 Female Circumcision Prohibition Act.
Anyone suspecting FGM can report it by contacting
(0116) 305 0005 (Leicestershire County Council)
(0116) 454 1004 (Leicester City Council)
(01572) 758 407 (Rutland County Council)
The film sets out the shocking health risks of FGM:
Severe pain and shock, broken limbs (from being held down) infection, increased HIV/AIDS risk, urine retention, tissue injury and fatal haemorrhaging
In the short term, uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections, cysts and neuromas, infertility, increased risk of fistula, pregnancy and childbirth complications
In the longer term, psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences, trauma flashbacks and depression
Around 10% of FGM victims die from short term effects and 1 in 4 from recurrent problems.
In the film, Dr Sudhir Sethi, LLR Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children, says: "We have sizeable communities across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who may be at risk from FGM. From my perspective, FGM is a violation of the rights of a child. Children have a right to be protected from any form of torture, inhumane or degrading treatment."
"If you act and protect one child, you will potentially be protecting many children in that child's family, community and extended family."
"The signs can be very subtle. The girl might simply say she is going on a long holiday and might simply say there is going to be a great celebration or a special event – or she may say she is going and will return as a proper woman. That's all we will get."
The film is available at here.
For further information on FGM see the 'Health For Teens' website
NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Helpline
The NSPCC has set up a FGM helpline, which is free, anonymous and 24/7. If you're worried a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM, call the FGM helpline on: 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breast Ironing also known as "Breast Flattening" is the process whereby young pubescent girls breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely. It is believed that by carrying out this act, young girls will be protected from harassment, rape, abduction and early forced marriage and therefore be kept in education.
Much like FGM is Breast Ironing is a harmful practice and is child abuse.
The United Nations (UN) states that Breast Ironing affects 3.8 million women around the world. It has been identified as one of the five under-reported crimes relating to gender-based violence. The custom uses large stones, a hammer or spatulas that have been heated over scorching coals to compress the breast tissue of girls as young as 9 years old. Those who derive from richer families may opt to use an elastic belt to press the breasts so as to prevent them from growing.
The mutilation is a traditional practice from Cameroon designed to make teenage girls look less "womanly" and to deter unwanted male attention, pregnancy and rape. The practice is commonly performed by family members, 58% of the time by the mother. In many cases the abuser thinks they are doing something good for their daughter, by delaying the effects of puberty so that she can continue her education, rather than getting married.
There is no specific law within the UK around Breast Ironing, however it is a form of physical abuse and if professionals are concerned a child may be at risk of or suffering significant harm they must refer to their Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures.
Further information on Breast Ironing is available from the Tri.x briefing paper.