Female Genital Mutilation

Key Facts

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It's also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna.

Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse. It's dangerous and a criminal offence.

There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn't enhance fertility and it doesn't make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.

All types of FGM have been illegal in the UK since the 1985 Female Circumcision Prohibition Act. The new Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act 2003 updates and extends the original act.  It is now ‘an offence to take UK nationals and those with permanent UK residency overseas for the purpose of circumcision, to aid and abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of Female Genital Mutilation (all types of circumcision). It is illegal for anyone to circumcise women or children for cultural or non-medical reason’.

A one page fact sheet on FGM is available on the right.

Local Response

Due to the adverse impact that FGM has on the physical and emotional health, safety and wellbeing of girls and women, it has been identified as an area for priority work by the three Local Safeguarding Children Boards in the west of Berkshire. The purpose of this work is not to duplicate any existing guidance, policy or procedures, but to strengthen our local joined up response by setting out our vision for raising awareness, and improving our response to FGM, in partnership with community groups.  This work is being coordinated through a joint multi-agency partnership group and the group's action plan can be viewed on the right.

In July 2016 we held a launch event to promote our local risk assessment tool and pathways through services.  The presentation from the day, the full toolkit plus a Word version of the form are available for use on the right of the page.  Below is the link to the BBCspotlight on FGM set in Berkshire film that was shown at the event.  Please use these materials in your organisation/setting.

In October 2017 the Reading Rose Clinic was launched; this is a specialist once a month drop in service for women affected by FGM.  A flyer can be found on the right hand safe of this page which includes dates and location of future clinic sessions.

Further Information

On the right of this page you will find links to:

  • ACRE (Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality) - a voluntary sector partner helping to progress community awareness raising and prevention.  Their website contains survivors stories. 
  • HM Government Multi-agency Statutory Guidance on FGM which was published in April 2016.  This guidance will inform the continuing work of the partnership group.
  • NSPCC web page on FGM
  • Link to BBC news film - BBC spotlight on FGM set in Berkshire
  • Local information regarding FGM within Reading via the Reading Joint Strategic Needs Assessment page


The West of Berkshire LSCBs have launched a new online course to support all staff who need to understand how to complete the FGM risk assessment toolkit.

There are two modules:
1. FGM Awareness
2. West of Berkshire FGM Pathways & Risk Assessment Tools.

You may have already completed the Home Office Recognising and Preventing FGM online course (see below). If you have it is not essential for you to do the FGM Awareness module, although you may decide to use this module to refresh your knowledge. This module takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

How to access it:
To access the module please email training@reading.gov.uk with the following information:
• In the subject line use LSCBFGM
• Your full name
• Your Team, Service and Organisation
• Contact email
Once your log in has been set up you will receive a confirmation email with details of how to access the module. This log in will be valid for 2 weeks from the date of receiving the email.

If you wish to access the online Home Office training - E-learning for all professionals (including teachers, police, border force staff, and health visitors), it is available at www.fgmelearning.co.uk.

Health Education England offer e-learning, free to access by health and social care professionals, at www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/female-genital-mutilation/.

Reading LSCB also offers a half day specialist course - see the LSCB training programme on the Training page: http://www.readinglscb.org.uk/readinglscb-training/

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