It is illegal in the United Kingdom to allow girls to undergo female genital mutilation either in this country or abroad. People guilty of allowing FGM to take place are punished by fines and up to fourteen years in prison.

At Oak Tree High School we have a duty to report concerns we have about girls at risk of FGM to the police and social services.’

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It can be referred to as female circumcision.

Who is at risk from FGM?

FGM is typically carried out on girls between 4 and 15 years of age. The majority of known cases are in 28 African countries including Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, as well as others in the Middle East and Asia.

What are the reasons for this practice?

-Cultural identity – An initiation into womanhood

-Gender Identity – Moving from girl to woman – enhancing femininity

-Sexual control – reduce the female’s desire for sex

-Hygiene/cleanliness – unmutilated females are regarded as unclean

What are the risk factors for FGM?

-low level of integration into UK society
-mother or sister who has undergone FGM
-girls who are withdrawn from PSHE
-a visiting female elder from the country of origin
-being taken on a long holiday to the family’s country of origin. This might not be enough on its own but might be significant when added to other concerns.
-talk about a ‘special’ event or procedure to ‘become a woman’

When are high risk times for FGM?

This procedure often takes place in the summer, as the recovery period after FGM can be 6 to 9 weeks. Schools should be alert to the possibility of FGM as a reason why a girl in a high risk group is absent from school or where the family request an ‘authorised absence’ for just before or just after the summer school holidays.

Although, it is difficult to identify girls before FGM takes place, where girls from these high risk groups return from a long period of absence with symptoms of FGM, advice should be sought from the police or social services.

What are the effects of FGM?

FGM has no health benefits.  It harms girls and women in many ways as it involves removing and damaging normal and healthy genital tissue and interferes with the natural function of female bodies.

Immediate complications include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue, wound infection, urinary infection, fever, and septicemia. Haemorrhage and infection can be severe enough to cause deat

Long term consequences can include recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of complications in child birth and a need for further surgery.

Many victims also suffer severe psychological trauma and long term psychological problems.

What are the indications that a girl is a victim of FGM?

-Prolonged absence from school and a change in behaviour on return.
-Finding it difficult to sit still and appears to be experiencing discomfort or pain
-Spending a long time at the toilet
-Asking to be excused from PE lessons
-A sudden change in dress.

What should you do if you suspect a girl has been or is about to become a victim of FGM?

If you think a girl is at risk of FGM or that FGM has taken place, you must report this as a child protection issue to the school’s safeguarding lead and to the police on 101.

Members of the public should report this to the police on 101.