Female genital mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of physical abuse and violence against women and girls. It is a harmful cultural practice with devastating health consequences for girls and women. It is also a violation of a girl’s human rights and bodily integrity. FGM is illegal in England and Wales under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”) as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015. FGM comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
Female Genital Mutilation is not a religious requirement or obligation. While religion is often cited as justification for the practice, it predates Judaism, Christianity and Islam and has been denounced by senior Muslim clerics in recent years. FGM represents a form of physical and emotional abuse. It is a violation of a girl’s bodily integrity and her human rights. The practice has no known health benefit and causes both short-term and long term significant harm to women and girls.
Mandatory reporting duty
If you are a registered professional, that is, a health professional, a social worker or a teacher, you have a mandatory duty to report cases of FGM.
The duty applies where the professional either:
- is informed by the girl that an act of FGM has been carried out on her, or
- observes physical signs which appear to show an act of FGM has carried out and has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.
- The duty applies to professionals working within healthcare or social care, and teachers. It therefore covers:
- Professionals regulated by a body overseen by the Professional Standards Authority (with the exception of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland). This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, and, in England, social workers and teachers,
The duty does not apply where a professional has reason to believe that another individual working in the same profession has previously made a report to the police in connection with the same act of FGM.
Full details of the Mandatory Reporting Duty and Merton’s approach to FGM are included in the attached MSCB FGM Strategy
Merton Safeguarding Children Partner (MSCP) has agreed an FGM Strategy. The goals of the strategy are as follows:
- To create community awareness and to engage with local communities on the prevention of FGM
- To ensure that all multi-agency partners are aware of their statutory responsibilities and are fulfilling them.
- To ensure that there are safe pathways to protect women and girls who have had or who are at risk of FGM
- To provide multi-agency guidance for local safeguarding partners and an effective safeguarding response to the issue of FGM.
- To ensure that services are in place to optimise future reproduction and sexual function, psychological health and better quality of life for survivors of FGM