A girl at immediate risk of FGM may not know what's going to happen. But she might talk about or you may become aware of:

    • a long holiday abroad or going 'home' to visit family
    • relative or cutter visiting from abroad
    • a special occasion or ceremony to 'become a woman' or get ready for marriage
    • a female relative being cut – a sister, cousin, or an older female relative such as a mother or aunt.

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


If you think a child is in immediate danger

Don't delay - call the police on 999 or us on 0800 028 3550 straight away.

Signs a teacher or school may notice

  • A family arranging a long break abroad during the summer holidays.
  • Unexpected, repeated or prolonged absence from school.
  • Academic work suffering.

A child may ask a teacher or another adult for help if she suspects FGM is going to happen or she may run away from home or miss school.

Reporting requirements
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.

Indicators FGM may have taken place

A girl or woman who's had female genital mutilation (FGM) may:

  • have difficulty walking, standing or sitting
  • spend longer in the bathroom or toilet
  • appear withdrawn, anxious or depressed
  • have unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
  • be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
  • ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

The physical effects of FGM

FGM can be extremely painful and dangerous. It can cause:

  • severe pain
  • shock
  • bleeding
  • infection such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • organ damage
  • blood loss and infections that can cause death in some cases.

Listen: "Hadas's story"

Hadas experienced FGM when she was just a few months old. Listen to Hadas talk about how it has affected her life, and why she believes FGM must stop.

Long-term effects of FGM

Girls and women who have had FGM may have problems that continue through adulthood, including:

  • difficulties urinating or incontinence
  • frequent or chronic vaginal, pelvic or urinary infections
  • menstrual problems
  • kidney damage and possible failure
  • cysts and abscesses
  • pain when having sex
  • infertility
  • complications during pregnancy and childbirth
  • emotional and mental health problems.

Find out more about effects on the NHS Choices website.

More about 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.

Find out more

Prevent and protect

How to help keep children safe from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Prevent and protect children from FGM

Facts and statistics

Facts and statistics about female genital mutilation (FGM).

See FGM statistics

What you can do

FGM helpline

Helpline offering advice, information and support to anyone concerned that a child's welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation.

0800 028 3550

Contact us by email

Are You There?

We're calling on the government to help our Childline service be there for every child dealing with meantal health issues. 

Learn more

Donate now

In the average primary school class, at least 2 children have suffered abuse or neglect. Donate now and help protect children today and prevent abuse from happening tomorrow.

Donate now

Work or volunteer with children and families?

Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.

Go to NSPCC Learning