Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM harms girls and women internationally and could be harming girls in Dorset today.
What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the mutilation of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is sometimes known as circumcision, ‘sunna’ or ‘cutting’. FGM is child abuse and is an extremely harmful practice with devastating health consequences.
FGM is known to take place within the UK, primarily among immigrant and refugee communities. Victims who reside in the UK can also be flown abroad for the procedure to be carried out.
Signs of FGM:
A girl at immediate risk of FGM may not know what’s going to happen. But she might talk about:
- Being taken ‘home’ to visit family
- A special occasion to ‘become a woman’
- An older female relative visiting the UK
Signs FGM has taken place:
- A girl may have difficulty walking, sitting or standing.
- She may spend longer than normal in the bathroom/toilet.
- A girl may have prolonged or repeated absences from school.
- There may be behaviour changes to that individual such as withdrawal or depression.
- A girl may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
FGM is illegal in the UK, but is known to be a well-hidden and under-reported crime.
Have you noticed signs or have any concerns?
If you are concerned about a child or young person please report it to the police online: dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, alternatively call 101. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, dial 999.
Remember: Be discrete - alerting a girl or woman’s family to the fact that she is disclosing information about FGM may place her at risk of harm.