The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines female genital mutilation (FGM) as all procedures that that involve partial or total removal of the genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is recognised as a violation of human rights (WHO 2017)
In the UK, it is against the law to practice FGM or to support a child going overseas to have FGM carried out. Regulated health and social care professionals have a duty to report known cases of FGM (Home Office 2016).
There are four different types of FGM
Type 1: Clitoridectomy
Type 2: Excision
Type 3: Infibulation
Type 4: Other
There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM and several health implications can result following it including, difficulties in; urinating, mensuration and complications in birth. These will depend on the type of FGM experienced (National FGM Centre 2017)
Cases of FGM occur across the world but the risk is greatest in communities with links to certain countries within; Africa, the Middle East and Asia (National FGM Centre 2017).
There were 6,195 individual women and girls who had an attendance where FGM was identified or a procedure related to FGM was undertaken in the period April 2017 to March 2018 (NHS 2018).
There were 4,495 newly recorded women and girls in the period April 2017 to March 2018. Newly recorded means this is the first time cases have appeared in the NHS dataset. It does not indicate how recently the FGM was undertaken, nor does it mean that this is the woman or girl's first attendance for FGM (NHS 2018).
Only 35% of individual women and girls have a known age when FGM was undertaken. (NHS 2018). Link to the full report.
The following figures have been rounded to the nearest 5. In Suffolk 2017/18 there were 10 reported cases related to FGM. In 2016/17 where there were 15 reported cases related to FGM. Most of the cases were reported by NHS organisations (obstetrics, gynaecology and midwifery). There is a spread across different types of FGM (1-4). In Suffolk, there is no longer a clear picture of countries or areas associated with FGM (country of birth or origin) or age when FGM was carried out (NHS 2018).
The 2015 FGM health needs assessment estimated there were likely to be approximately 115 girls in Suffolk schools from FGM practising countries with 470 women and girls at risk or having experienced FGM (Public Health Suffolk 2015).
FGM is a safeguarding issue (NSPCC 2017).
The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) coordinate this work at a community level.
Suffolk has a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) professionals and others with concerns about FGM. You can contact the MASH about concerns and make referrals.
Protection Orders can be made where there is judged to be sufficient risk of FGM to a child (Home Office 2016).
National and local referral pathways are in place for those who are concerned about a child who has experienced or who may be at risk of FGM.
The NHS have developed the NHS Safeguarding App, which is a resource for healthcare professionals to increase their awareness and understanding of safeguarding requirements. Download it by clicking the links below.
Survivors Stories and Support
Child-line can be contacted if you or someone you know is worried about FGM.
National FGM Centre - Run by Barnardo's
NHS England - FGM strategy
Royal College of Nursing - resources for professionals work in area of FGM
Suffolk Refugee Support - Hidden Harms, FGM work
The Source - FGM information for young people
iCash - Suffolk’s integrated contraception and sexual health service
Suffolk Police - FGM specific advice
Make a Change Team – working with young people at risk of exploitation and open to social work. Contact at MAC@suffok.gcsx.gov.uk
Resources and Training
Online resources and training can be accessed through several of the national organisations listed above. A number of these are free to download.
Face to face training is available through some national and local providers and independent trainers. The National FGM Centre (based at Barnardos) has produced an Assessment Tool and good practice guidance document specifically for social workers.
The National FGM Centre has produced a legal fact sheet to highlight the different FGM legislation in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
This can be used by professionals and community groups working with families to help explain the law surrounding FGM.
Acute Hospitals FGM Policies
Guidance for Professionals
NHS Choices website can direct you to where you can get more information or leaflets in other languages