Ethics

Last updated:

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation is considered a form of child abuse and is a criminal offence in the UK. Our guidance looks at doctors' role in preventing and eradicating the practice. It gives you further sources of advice and support and addresses practical questions such as:

  • how to identify if a girl or woman is at risk or has undergone FGM
  • when confidentiality can be breached
  • when to invoke child safeguarding procedures

 

Basic principles

  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of child abuse and is against the law.
  • The BMA supports the effective enforcement of the Female Genital Mutilation (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Act 2003 and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005.
  • If a child is identified as being at risk of female genital mutilation, urgent action must be taken to safeguard the child.
  • Matters of female genital mutilation should be handled sensitively, but a child’s welfare is paramount.
  • Medical personnel should be trained in how to meet the needs of girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation. Care should be taken to ensure that affected girls and women do not feel stigmatised.
  • There is a need to raise awareness about the health and legal issues, and about support services and sources of information that are available amongst communities that practise female genital mutilation.
  • Risk of female genital mutilation should be recognised as legitimate grounds for refugee and asylum status.

 

FGM e-learning

The e-FGM educational programme is free for all healthcare professionals. The material deals with the issues posed by female genital mutilation at all stages of a girl or woman’s life.

Access the training

 

Download

Female Genital Mutilation: Caring for patients and safeguarding children (PDF)

 

Further information

Visit the FGM section on NHS Choices