This section is very specific and relates to practices carried out by specific community groups.  Whether or not you have experienced FGM in any form, if you are from these communities it is possible that you will know someone who has experienced some of the wider forms of domestic abuse and sexual violence mentioned in other sections of the website.  You may have experienced them yourself.  No matter what your background, if you have lived with domestic abuse, sexual violence or have experienced FGM there are services that can support you.  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to any procedure that aims to change or injure a girl's (or woman’s) genitals for non-medical reasons. It’s sometimes known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘female genital cutting’ and it’s illegal in the UK.

  • Procedures that cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons
  • It is illegal to carry out these procedures in the UK
  • It is illegal to take a girl to another country to perform these procedures
  • Offenders face up to 14 years in prison

If you have experienced FGM yourself GPs, Health Visitors and Midwives will be sympathetic to your circumstances and will be able to support you with help and guidance around your health needs.

If you are concerned that a girl may be at risk of FGM, you should contact the Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships or the police.

Breast ironing is a form of physical abuse carried out on pre-pubescent girls to slow down or prevent their breasts from developing. More advice can be found on the National FGM Centre website.

  • It is done with hot stones, pestles, other implements or by wrapping bandages tightly around the chest
  • It can cause malformed breasts, difficulty in breastfeeding, severe chest pain, infections and abscesses
  • It has been condemned by the United Nations and identified as gender based violence
  • It is seen as a way of protecting girls because they are less likely to be raped or experience early marriage if they look more child-like
  • It happens in specific regions of Africa, notably Cameroon, but may also take place in African communities in the UK