Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is child abuse and a form of violence against girls and women, as well as being a violation of human rights. It comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. At least 200 million girls and women have undergone some form for FGM and over 3,000 girls and women in the City of London and Hackney are living within the consequences of FGM.
FGM is practised by families and communities for a variety of complex reasons but often in the belief that it is beneficial for the girl or woman. However, it has no health benefits and cause harms to girls and women in many ways.
The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously according to different communities. The procedure may be carried out when a girl is newborn, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8 and therefore girls within that age bracket are at a higher risk.