Female genital mutilation (FGM)
The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 which first made female genital mutilation (FGM) an offence, except on specific physical and mental health grounds, was repealed in 2003 in England and Wales and replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, which strengthens and amends the 1985 legislation. It makes it an offence for the first time for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal. In order to apply the principles from this Act throughout the UK, the Scottish Parliament has passed the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. Zero Tolerance have compiled a comprehensive briefing detailing resources and research on FGM.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for procedures, which include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. It is typically performed on girls aged between 4 and 13, although in some cases it is performed on newborn babies or young women prior to marriage or pregnancy. FGM is extremely harmful, causing long-term mental and physical suffering, difficulty in giving birth and infertility, and can be fatal. It violates the most basic human rights.
Fife Child Protection Committee recognises that whilst there may be no intent to harm a child through FGM, the practice can directly cause serious short and long-term medical complications. Consequently, the practice of FGM is seen as a physically abusive act. It is the aim of Fife Child Protection Committee to prevent the practice of FGM including raising awareness amongst communities and professional agencies.
Any information or concern that a child is at risk of, or has undergone FGM, should result in a child concern notification either to the Police or Social Work Service as FGM places a child at risk of significant harm and will therefore be subject to a child protection investigation.
Where the child appears to be in immediate danger of mutilation and parents cannot satisfactorily guarantee that they will not proceed with it, a Child Protection Order should be sought. A Child Protection Order should also be sought if the child's parents are intent on sending their daughter out of the country, and it can be shown that mutilation is likely if she goes.