We must challenge beliefs to protect children at risk of FGM

FGM is horrific for every child and we must change attitudes to end this practice, says John Cameron

We don't usually associate child abuse with a parent who thinks they're doing something normal for their child. But female genital mutilation (FGM) is a very serious type of abuse which some parents believe is acceptable and best for their child. 

The summer holidays is often a time when FGM happens as a child's absence from education won't be noticed. Some parents also think they're giving their child time to heal but they fail to comprehend the horrific impact of FGM. It has long-term physical and psychological damage.

Pressures from elder family members and others in a community can make it difficult for parents to break away from what they believe is tradition. It's important for all of us to be sensitive in our approach to challenging beliefs and supporting these families.


Worried about FGM?

Call the FGM helpline if you're worried a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM.
It's free, anonymous and we're here 24/7.

0800 028 3550

or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Find out the signs, symptoms and effects of female genital mutilation.

Learn what to look out for

No child should be forced into this practice

Religious, cultural and social reasons are often given for this practice but FGM is dangerous and a criminal offence. We must act to protect children by:

  • challenging beliefs
  • educating our communities
  • reporting any concerns.

Whoever you are, whatever background you're from, I urge you to stand up to end this form of abuse. There are no health benefits to FGM and no child should be forced into this painful, shocking practice.

"Parental attitudes and beliefs that support FGM need to be challenged. Any parent who has allowed this harm to happen to their child needs also be to brought to account for their actions. "
John Cameron / NSPCC Head of Helplines

Encouragingly only last week FGM protection orders came into force which enable officials to seize the passports of people who they suspect are attempting to take girls abroad to undergo FGM. Breaching the order is a criminal offence. We know from calls to our FGM helpline that young girls are being taken abroad and subjected to FGM – and we must do everything we can to stop this child abuse.

We're here to help 24/7

Since the launch of our dedicated FGM helpline at the end of June 2013, we have received nearly 700 contacts from people with concerns about FGM. If you are struggling with a situation on your own or worried about someone - don't talk yourself out of it, talk to us for confidential advice and support. You can remain anonymous and you can contact us 24 hours a day.

We have responded to over 1,200 contacts about FGM since June 2013. More than a third of these contacts have resulted in a referral to the police or children's services

Explanation: The NSPCC launched its dedicated FGM helpline in June 2013 for anyone with concerns about FGM. People can contact the helpline by phone on 0800 028 3550 or by email.

From 24 June 2013 to 31 March 2016 we received 1,202 contacts to the FGM helpline. Of these contacts:

  • 224 were requests for advice
  • 464 led to a referral
  • 514 were enquiries

Further information and advice

Who is affected

FGM can happen at any age before getting married or having a baby. Some girls are babies when FGM is carried out.
Find out more about who is affected by FGM

Keeping children safe

How to help keep children safe from FGM
Keeping children safe from FGM