It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a growing cause of concern in schools.
FGM is child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls, and therefore it is dealt with as part of existing child and adult safeguarding/protection structures, policies and procedures. It is illegal in the UK to subject a child to female genital mutilation (FGM) or to take a child abroad to undergo the procedure – Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Despite the harm it causes, FGM practising communities consider it normal to protect their cultural identity. The age at which girls are subject to FGM varies greatly from shortly after birth to any time up to adulthood. The average age is 10 to 12 years.
At Brentford School for Girls, our staff are trained in dealing with FGM and are alerted to the following key indicators:
- A child’s family comes from a community that is known to practise FGM.
- A child may talk about a long holiday to a country where the practice is prevalent.
- A child may confide that she is to have a ‘special procedure’ or to attend a special occasion.
- A child may request help from a teacher or another adult.
Any female child born to a woman or has a sister who has been subjected to FGM will be considered to be at risk, as much as other female children in the extended family. Any information or concern that a child is at risk of FGM will result in a child protection referral to Children’s Social Care.
The new mandatory reporting duty for FGM under the Serious Crime Act 2015, requires teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police. Guidelines on mandatory reporting can be found here.
Further guidance on FGM can be found here.
Call the FGM helpline if you're worried a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM. It's free, anonymous and they are available 24/7. Call them on 0800 028 3550, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org