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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) happens any time the external female genitalia (including the labia and clitoris) are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done.
The Scottish Government's formal statement opposing FGM explains that FGM is:
- illegal in Scotland and the UK
- usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15
- a form of violence against women and girls
- never needed for medical reasons
- not approved by any religion
FGM is also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms including khatna, sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan.
FGM interferes with the natural functions of a woman or girl's body and can seriously harm their health. It can cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health. FGM is against a person's rights to:
- health, security and physical integrity
- freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
- life (when the procedure results in death)
The law on FGM
If you're concerned about a girl of any age who may be at risk of FGM you can:
- contact the NSPCC on 0800 028 3550 (24 hour helpline)
- call the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 (24 hour helpline) for guidance and support
- speak to a teacher or any health professional
- call 999 and ask for the police if you're in the UK and are at immediate risk, or are concerned that you might be taken overseas for the purpose of FGM
If you're visiting in another country and need help or advice please call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on +44 (0) 20 7008 1500 or the British High Commission or Embassy in the country you're visiting.
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