Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It has no health benefits and harms girls and women in a number of ways.

FGM involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural function of girls’ and women’s bodies. The practice causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, including difficulties in childbirth, also causing dangers to the unborn child.

Working with partner organisations

The Department of Health have introduced data recording for FGM to look at prevalence, the Department of Health developed the policy, HSCIC worked on the technical aspects of how providers will submit the data and how HSCIC collect and analyse it. NHS England’s role was to make sure providers were aware they had to collect, what they needed to collect, how to practically implement the policy and what the analysis informed us about provision and commissioning.

The team work most closely with providers, specialist services related to FGM, clinicians and safeguarding professionals but ensure that their work reaches all health staff.

Achievements over the last year

The work of the group both nationally and in each region has contributed to raising awareness of FGM, training in and help with communication skills in relation to FGM, collecting prevalence data, influencing the process on the  legal duty to report and looking at commissioning of services.

Future plans for the subgroup

The plan is to raise awareness of the legal duty to report under 18s with FGM to the police and the process for doing this; we also want to look at the mental health needs of patients, to review the current provision of FGM specialist services and to run workshops on safeguarding risks to protect girls at risk.

FGM – some key statistics

  • 75% of patients self report their FGM
  • 43 deinfibulations were reported to have taken place over a 3 month period within acute providers.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated.
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. WHO, February 2014.

People should also be provided with an independent Mental Capacity advocate (IMCA), who will support them to make decisions in certain situations, such as serious treatment or where the individual might have significant restrictions placed on their freedom and rights in their best interests.