• Learning for LifeandWork

What is FGM?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation


It is a procedure that involves deliberately cutting, for no medical reason, a female's genitals. It is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and 15 years old. In Northern Ireland, it is illegal and is considered child abuse.


There are many reasons why FGM is performed. These include:

Cultural reasons

Some people believe FGM is part of their culture and as part of a girl's initiation into womanhood.


Social reasons

Some people believe that FGM will benefit the girl in some way and be good for her. In some communities, the external female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed to promote hygiene and enhance aesthetic appeal.


Religious reasons

Some communities believe that by completing FGM, this will ensure the girl's virginity before marriage.


Are there complications with FGM?

Complications can occur and include:

  • severe pain

  • haemorrhage

  • urine retention

  • fever

  • septicaemia

  • death as a result of complications

  • urinary incontinence

  • emotional effects, including post-traumatic stress

What can a young girl do if they feel they are at risk of FGM?

  • Tell someone what has been happening - this could be a parent/guardian, a friend, a teacher in school.

  • Consider talking to someone at an organisation that can give advice and help with the bullying experience such as:

- NSPCC

- ChildLine

- African and Caribbean Support Northern Ireland

- Women's Aid

- Barnardo's

- Samaritans


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