Female genital mutilation (FGM) Preventing and protecting
FGM is child abuse and it is against the law.
If you suspect a child or woman has experienced FGM you must report your concerns so appropriate support and action can be taken.
If you think a child may be at risk there are steps you can take to help protect them and prevent them from experiencing FGM.
Reporting your concerns
If you think that a child may be at risk of female genital mutilation or if you suspect that FGM has already happened, even if it's not recently, you must seek help and advice.
If you think a child is at immediate risk call the police on 999.
Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales must report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s to the police (Home Office, 2016).
Find out more about the legal duty on schools in England and Wales to report cases of FGM on our legislation, guidance and policy page.
FGM protection orders
From July 2015 anyone can apply to the court for an FGM protection order if they are concerned that someone is at risk of FGM.
Breaching an FGM protection order is a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
Find out more about FGM protection orders from the Home Office’s FGM protection orders: factsheet (PDF).
To get an FGM protection order follow the steps on the Gov.uk website.
Support and advice for children
Petals is a webapp for young people, created by Coventry University, to help protect young girls and women from FGM.
Working with families and children
Families who practice FGM don't think of it as abuse. Professionals need to give families advice and information that is sensitive to their culture and beliefs, but they need to make clear that FGM is illegal.
If a child has already undergone FGM she should be offered medical help and counselling. Professionals should also take action to protect any other children in the family and to investigate possible risk to others in the community.
How schools can help protect children from FGM
- Child protection policy and procedures should outline what to do in the event of a concern about FGM. The policy should be read and signed by all members of staff and reviewed and updated annually.
- A robust attendance policy can help identify patterns of absence and ensure these are picked up on and investigated. Frequent absences due to health issues can be a sign that FGM may have taken place.
- Regular staff training is important to ensure staff recognise possible signs and indicators that a girl is either at risk or has already undergone FGM.
- School assemblies and personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons are a good way of raising awareness for both pupils and staff. Guest speakers can be invited in from external agencies; theatre groups can be used or films shown to engage young people.
Resources for professionals
Resources for professionals
We’ve pulled together lists of practice guidance, films, leaflets and other resources.
Petals for professionals
Coventry University have produced a webapp which explains the legal responsibilities of professionals, advice on initiating conversations and information for specific professions.
More information about FGM
Signs, symptoms and effects
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Who is affected by FGM
Female genital mutilation (FGM) can happen at any age before getting married or having a baby. Some girls are babies when FGM is carried out.
Legislation, policy and guidance
Legislation, policy and guidance about female genital mutilation (FGM).
Facts and statistics
Facts and statistics about female genital mutilation (FGM).
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