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5.12 Female Genital Mutilation

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The rights of women and girls are enshrined by various universal and regional instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa. All these documents highlight the right for girls and women to live free from gender discrimination, free from torture, to live in dignity and with bodily integrity.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Home Office website information regarding Female Genital Mutilation

Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Female Genital Mutilation (HM Government, 2016)

Information Standards Board for health and Social Care, ISN 1610 Female Genital Mutilation Prevalence Dataset Specification

FGM Protection order Factsheets

Statement opposing female genital mutilation (2016)  

DoH, Safeguarding women and girls at risk of FGM (2017)

Home Office, Female genital mutilation: resource pack (2016)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in November 2017 to add links to DoH, Safeguarding women and girls at risk of FGM (2017); FGM Protection order Factsheets and Statement opposing female genital mutilation (2016).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. NHS Guidelines
  3. The Serious Crime Act 2015 has amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

    Appendix 1: Advice for Regulated Professionals in Lincolnshire – FGM Mandatory Reporting

    Appendix 2: URGENT SAFEGUARDING – FGM REPORT - CALLING POLICE ON 999

    Appendix 3: Female Genital Mutilation Flow Chart of Information Sharing


1. Introduction

Female Genital mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for procedures which include the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia for cultural or non-therapeutic reasons. The practice is medically unnecessary, extremely painful and has serious health consequences, both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life. The procedure is typically performed on girls aged between 4-13, but in some cases FGM is performed on newborn infants or on young women before marriage or pregnancy. A number of girls will die as a result of the procedure from blood loss or infection

The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes female circumcision, excision or infibulation (female genital mutilation (FGM)) an offence, except on specific physical and mental health grounds. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced the 1985 Act and makes it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad or to aid and abet, counsel, or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad even in countries where the practice is legal.

Further information can be found in Home Office Circular 10/2002 which is available at the Home Office website.

Suspicion may arise in a number of ways that a child is being prepared for FGM to take place abroad. These include knowing that the family belongs to a community in which FGM is practiced and are making preparations for the child to take a holiday, arranging vaccinations, or planning absence from school and the child may talk about a special procedure taking place. Indicators that FGM may already have occurred include prolonged absence from school with noticeable behaviour changes on return and long periods away from classes or other normal activities possibly because of bladder or menstrual problems. Midwives and doctors may become aware that FGM has been practiced on an older women and this may prompt concern for female children in the same family.

A local authority may exercise its powers under S.47 of the Children Act 1989 if it has reason to believe that a child is likely to be or has been the subject of FGM. However, despite severe health consequences, parents and others who have done this genuinely believe that it is in the girl's best interests to conform to her prevailing custom. So, where a child has been identified as at risk of suffering Significant Harm, it may not be appropriate to consider removing the child from an otherwise loving environment. Where a child appears to be in immediate danger of mutilation, consideration should be given to getting a prohibited steps order. If a child has already undergone FGM particular attention should be paid to the potential risk of harm to other female children in the same family.

Practitioners must notify the LSCB of local areas where there are communities who traditionally practise FGM, to enable a preventative focus to be developed. (See also Section 3, The Serious Crime Act 2015 has amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003).


2. NHS Guidelines

From April 2014 NHS hospitals will be required to record:

  • If a patient has had Female Genital Mutilation;
  • If there is a family history of Female Genital Mutilation;
  • If an Female Genital Mutilation-related procedure has been carried out on a patient.

From September 2014 all acute hospitals must report this data centrally to the Department of Health on a monthly basis. This is the first stage of a wider ranging programme of work in development to improve the way in which the NHS will respond to the health needs of girls and women who have suffered Female Genital Mutilation and actively support prevention.

See also Appendix 3: Female Genital Mutilation Flow Chart of Information Sharing

For further information, see Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care Female Genital Mutilation Prevalence Dataset Specification.

Also see Royal College of Obstetricians, Female Genital Mutilation and its management (Guideline No. 53).


3. The Serious Crime Act 2015 has amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

  1. Creating a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM with a penalty of up to 7 years in prison or a fine or both. - A person is liable if they are “responsible” for a girl at the time when an offence is committed. This will cover someone who has “parental responsibility” for the girl and has “frequent contact” with her and any adult who has assumed responsibility for caring for the girl in the manner of a parent. This could be for example family members, with whom she was staying during the school holidays;

    See Appendix 1: Advice for Regulated Professionals in Lincolnshire – FGM Mandatory Reporting and Appendix 2: URGENT SAFEGUARDING – FGM REPORT - CALLING POLICE ON 999.
  2. Introduced Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (“FGMPO”) - breaching an order carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The terms of the order can be flexible and the court can include whatever terms it considers necessary and appropriate to protect the girl or woman;
  3. Allowing for the anonymity of victims of FGM – prohibiting the publication of any information that could lead to the identification of the victim. Publication covers all aspects of media including social media;
  4. Extended the extra-territorial reach of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) offences to include “habitual residents” of the UK.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: Advice for Regulated Professionals in Lincolnshire – FGM Mandatory Reporting

Click here to view Appendix 2: URGENT SAFEGUARDING – FGM REPORT - CALLING POLICE ON 999

Click here to view Appendix 3: Female Genital Mutilation Flow Chart of Information Sharing

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