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What is FGM?

The term 'female genital mutilation' – also known as 'FGM' – refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Illustration of two women chatting on the phone to each other.

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Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is internationally recognised as a human rights violation and is illegal in England and Wales. It is sometimes inaccurately referred to as 'female circumcision'.

FGM procedures are usually carried out on girls aged between infancy and 15 years old, and cause a range of long-term physical and psychological health problems. They have no health benefits.

It's estimated that more than 20,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK every year. Another 66,000 women in the UK are estimated to already be living with the consequences of FGM procedures.

However, the true extent of FGM is unknown. This is because of the largely 'hidden' nature of the crime.

Getting help and support

You can find more information about FGM and the support available for those at risk and victims or survivors in the following places:

  • The NHS website.
  • FORWARD: an African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls.