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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna.

Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse. It’s dangerous and a criminal offence.

There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn’t enhance fertility and it doesn’t make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.

All types of FGM have been illegal in the UK since the 1985 Female Circumcision Prohibition Act. The new Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act 2003 updates and extends the original act.  It is now ‘an offence to take UK nationals and those with permanent UK residency overseas for the purpose of circumcision, to aid and abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of Female Genital Mutilation (all types of circumcision). It is illegal for anyone to circumcise women or children for cultural or non-medical reason’.

A one page fact sheet on FGM is available on the West of Berkshire FGM page.

Local Response

Due to the adverse impact that FGM has on the physical and emotional health, safety and wellbeing of girls and women, it has been identified as an area for priority work by the West of Berkshire LSCBs.  The purpose of this work is not to duplicate any existing guidance, policy or procedures, but to strengthen our local joined up response by setting out our vision for raising awareness, and improving our response to FGM, in partnership with community groups.  This work is being coordinated through a joint multi-agency partnership group and the group’s action plan can be viewed on the right.

Further Information


The West of Berkshire LSCBs recommend the online Home Office training – E-learning for all professionals (including teachers, police, border force staff, and health visitors), is available at www.fgmelearning.co.uk.

Health Education England offer e-learning, free to access by health and social care professionals, at www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/female-genital-mutilation/.

RSCB also offers a half day specialist course – see the RSCB training programme on the Training page: www.readinglscb.org.uk/guidance/rscb-training/