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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK. It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. FGM can occur at different times in a girls or woman's life, this may include at birth, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage and during pregnancy. However, the true extent is unknown due to the 'hidden' nature of the crime. FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, most commonly before puberty starts.

Different languages use different terminology for FGM such as female circumcision, cutting, sunna, gudniin or tahur. A full list of terminology can be found on the National FGM Centre. There are no health benefits to FGM. Removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. Immediate effects include severe pain, shock, wound infections, injury to tissues and organs.FGM can sometimes cause death. Long-term consequences include chronic vaginal and pelvic infections, kidney impairment and possible kidney failure, complications in pregnancy and new-born deaths and psychological damage. FGM is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGM. If caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Seven Minute Briefing on FGM

What you can do.

Understand the signs of FGM by using this document provided by the National FGM Centre.

If you are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, you must share this information with Rochdale Social Services or the police.

  • If you are concerned about a child, please call Rochdale Children Social Care on 0300 303 0350.
  • If you are concerned about an adult at risk, please call Rochdale Adult Social Care on 0300 303 8886
  • Out of office hours please contact 0300 303 8875 
  • If you feel the person is in immediate danger please contact the police on 999
  • The NSPCC also have helplines available on 0800 028 3550 or help@NSPCC.org.uk

If you are a health or social care professional who may come into contact with girls and women at risk of FGM, you can read the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Children Procedures Manual For information on reporting suspected or confirmed FGM follow the Rochdale Pathway. Further information regarding pathway items can be found on this legal factsheet.

  FGM pathway

The Guardian Project. 

The Guardian Project - NESTAC is a unique project available across Greater Manchester that provides psychological interventions for children and young girls under the ago of 21. The project provides a confidential space to talk through feelings and emotions. They can be contacted on 01706 868993 or info@nestac.org.uk  The project provides FREE  services across Greater Manchester and is available five days a week.

Further Information.


More local and national information can be found by clicking the links below:


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