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What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM is a form of child abuse. It's dangerous and a criminal offence in the UK. We know:
- there are no medical reasons to carry out FGM
- it's often performed by someone with no medical training, using instruments such as knives, scalpels, scissors, glass or razor blades
- children are rarely given anaesthetic or antiseptic treatment and are often forcibly restrained
- it's used to control female sexuality and can cause long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.
FGM can happen at different times in a girl or woman's life, including:
- when a baby is new-born
- during childhood or as a teenager
- just before marriage
- during pregnancy.
Signs of FGM
A child who's at risk of FGM might ask you for help. But some children might not know what's going to happen to them. So it's important to be aware of the signs.
Effects of FGM
There are no health benefits to FGM. It can cause serious harm, including:
- severe and/or constant pain
- infections, such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
- pain or difficulty having sex
- bleeding, cysts and abscesses
- difficulties urinating or incontinence
- organ damage
- problems during pregnancy and childbirth, which can be life-threatening for the mother and baby
- mental health problems, such as depression, flashbacks and self-harm
- death from blood loss or infections.
Why FGM Happens
FGM is carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons. Some families and communities believe that FGM will benefit the girl in some way, such as preparing them for marriage or childbirth.
But FGM is a harmful practice that isn't required by any religion and there are no health benefits of FGM.