This is the United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). We fully support all efforts to engage and raise awareness as we collaborate to help eliminate this violent practice. 

The FGM Enhanced Dataset was opened in 2015 and collects information from NHS Trusts and GP practices regarding when they come in contact with victims of FGM. From April 2015 and March 2020, this data set recorded 24,420 individual cases. 

International reports indicate that during lockdowns women and girls in source countries, such as in East and West Africa, are experiencing higher levels of cutting, potentially hidden by the impact of COVID related restrictions.  This may be exacerbated by a reduction in the opportunity to be in contact with health services.

Hear from Mbalu Mansaray, a survivor of FGM, about the long term impacts of the practice.

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation or ‘FGM’ is a form of physical abuse. It is also a form of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

FGM has long been challenged within communities impacted by the practice and following the introduction of enhanced legislation and mandatory reporting, statutory authorities now pay more attention to the issue.

UNICEF report that approx. 200 million girls and women alive today, in 30 countries, have experienced some form of FGM.

The World Health Organisation, describes four types of FGM:

  • Type 1: Usually refers to the partial or complete removal of the clitoris and/or clitoral hood (the sensitive/erectile part of the female genitals).

  • Type 2: Excision is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the (inner) labia minora, with or without excision of the (outer) labia majora.

  • Type 3 (most severe): (Infibulation) involves the removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound. A small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, and the wound may be opened for intercourse and childbirth.

  • Type 4: Refers to miscellaneous procedures such as symbolic piercing of the clitoris or labia, burning of the clitoris, and cutting into the vagina to widen it.

It is generally understood that the risks to health and life from these practices increase with the severity of the procedure – type 1 and 2 are thought to be most common.

The Challenges

Safeguarding professionals need to understand the issue and how they can protect young people from harm. There is debate around the prevalence of the practice within the UK, and communities worldwide.

For professionals, the focus should be placed on educating and safeguarding young people. You should avoid insensitive interventions or poorly informed suspicions – this can risk stigmatising communities where FGM is practiced.

What you can do

  • Educate yourself further on the issue and understand what you need to know in your professional capacity – this could be from wider reading or access to relevant training.

  • You should always be familiar with the reporting pathways within your own school or organisation. This includes how to escalate cases where there are inadequate responses or barriers to reporting.

  • We also deliver face to face training courses on FGM and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Awareness. To learn more visit our Training page.


If you are worried about a young person is at risk or is a victim of FGM you can contact the NSPCC FGM Helpline:

Join our Safeguarding Hub Newsletter Network

Members of our network receive weekly updates on the trends, risks and threats to children and young people online. 

Sign Up

What is Coronavirus? An explainer for Children

Our animated video has reached over 350,000 views on YouTube.

What is

Watch Susie explain what Sadfishing is in the context of Safeguarding.

Self-Harm and Peer Support

Children’s Mental Health Week 2021

Free Printable: Emotions Journal

Free Printable: Gratitude Journal

Help them cope with stress