Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. However, the true extent is unknown due to the 'hidden' nature of the crime.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, most commonly before puberty starts. Different languages use different terminology for FGM.

There are no health benefits to FGM. Removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.

Immediate effects include severe pain, shock, wound infections, injury to tissues and organs.

FGM can sometimes cause death. Long-term consequences include chronic vaginal and pelvic infections, kidney impairment and possible kidney failure, complications in pregnancy and new-born deaths and psychological damage.

FGM is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGM. If caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

What you can do

If you are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, you should contact Bolton Children's Safeguarding Team on 01204 337468 or the police.

  • If you are concerned about a child, please call 0845 226 5570.
  • If you are concerned about an adult at risk, please call 0300 303 8886
  • Out of office hours please contact 0300 303 8875
  • If you feel the person is in immediate danger please contact the police on 999

If you are a health or social care professional who may come into contact with girls and women at risk of FGM, you can find more information at: