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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves procedures that intentionally alter/injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.  There are different procedures and a variety of reasons why FGM is carried out.  All staff, parent and carers, and children need to be aware of the circumstances and occurrences that may point to FGM happening, as well as signs and symptoms that may indicate the child has undergone FGM.


The procedure is typically performed on girls aged between 4 and 13, but is also performed on new born infants and on young women before marriage / pregnancy. A number of girls die as a direct result of the procedure, from blood loss or infection. Girls are genitally mutilated illegally by doctors or traditional health workers in the UK, or sent abroad for the operation.


Female genital mutilation is illegal in this country (under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003) except on specific physical and mental health grounds. It is an offence to:


  • Undertake the operation (except in specific physical or mental health grounds);
  • Assist a girl to mutilate her own genitalia;
  • Assist a non-UK person to undertake FGM of a UK national outside UK (except in specific physical or mental health grounds);
  • Assist a UK national or permanent UK resident to undertake FGM of a UK national outside the UK (except in specific physical or mental health grounds).


Why is it carried out? There is a belief that;


  • FGM brings status/respect to the girl – social acceptance for marriage
  • Preserves a girl’s virginity
  • Part of being a woman / rite of passage
  • Upholds family honour
  • Cleanses and purifies the girl
  • Gives a sense of belonging to the community
  • Perpetuates a custom/tradition
  • Helps girls be clean / hygienic
  • It is cosmetically desirable
  • Mistakenly believed to make childbirth easier


Circumstances and occurrences that may point to FGM happening:


  • Child talking about getting ready for a special ceremony
  • Family taking a long trip abroad
  • Child’s family being from one of the ‘at risk’ communities where FGM is prevalent (most common in the western, eastern and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in the Middle East and Asia as well as among migrants from these areas)
  • Knowledge that the child’s sibling has undergone FGM
  • Child talks about going abroad to be ‘cut’ or to prepare for marriage


Signs that may indicate a child has undergone FGM:


  • Prolonged absence from school and other activities
  • Behaviour change on return from a holiday abroad, such as being withdrawn and appearing subdued
  • Bladder or menstrual problems
  • Finding it difficult to sit still and looking uncomfortable
  • Complaining about pain between the legs
  • Mentioning something somebody did to them that they are not allowed to talk about
  • Secretive behaviour, including isolating themselves from the group
  • Reluctance to take part in physical activity
  • Repeated urinal tract infection
  • Disclosure 

This information is produced by the MKSCB -


Any suspicion of intended or actual FGM MUST be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead at Middleton School immediately. This will then be reported to Children’s Social Care in accordance with the MKSB Referral and Assessment Procedure.


RELATED GUIDANCE: Female Genital Mutilation Factsheet, NSPCC (2014)