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Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a 'hidden' crime that involves altering or removing parts of the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is practiced throughout many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and is illegal in most of these countries and in the UK.

The punishment for this is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine. There are various reasons given for this procedure including religious, social and cultural. However, in the UK it is seen as a form of child abuse and a violation of the child's right to life. The girls are usually aged between 5-8 years, but it can happen any time up until marriage or having a baby.

As a result of FGM, women suffer both physical and psychological trauma. This can include severe pain, bleeding, discomfort during sex and fertility problems. Psychologically they may experience flashbacks and nightmares.

These are some key signs to watch out for if you are concerned that someone you know is at risk of or has undergone FGM:

  • Their family, who belong to a community that practice FGM, are planning a holiday. The child may even mention a special event that is going to take place.
  • They display unusual behaviour on their return - discomfort, can't sit still, difficulty walking.
  • They are reluctant to undergo medical examinations and may mention something has happened, but they're not allowed to say what.

If you or someone you know has undergone or is at risk of FGM, we would advise that you contact the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or via their email: fgmhelp @nspcc.org.uk. Alternatively, you can inform your local police force by calling 101.

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