Who is this webapp for?

This web app is for young people, both girls and boys living in the UK who want to find out more about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and how it might affect them and others they may know.

We also think the app will be useful for other groups of people too including:

  • Young women and young men who think their sisters or cousins may be at risk
  • Young women and young men who think friends may be at risk
  • Women who have undergone FGM themselves
  • Anyone else who has an interest in FGM

What will I find out?

This webapp informs young people about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) known in some communities as:

  • female circumcision
  • female genital cutting
  • 'cutting'
  • 'sunna'
  • 'khitan'

We have included:

  • Quiz
  • The facts about FGM including what it is, effects on health, why it's practised, the law, what the UK Government is doing
  • Views about FGM from girls, young women, men, religious leaders, FGM survivors, organisations
  • Take action - what you can do to end FGM and situations you may come across
  • Help and support
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section including 'what would happen if...?',
  • Glossary which gives explanations for some of the words used in this app

Who will know I am looking at this app?

If you are concerned that your browsing history may be discovered, here are some options:

We have marked all external websites not part of the webapp with '[www]' so you can choose to follow the link only if you wish.

By clicking the 'Close and remove' option at the top of the page, the app will attempt to close and remove itself from the browser history.

Test yourself

FGM is only a problem in Africa.





Communities in Africa have practised FGM for hundreds of years. It is a cultural practice and is passed on from generation to generation. It is also practised in some parts of the Middle East and SE Asia, such as Indonesia. FGM is now a problem in the UK because so many people have come from countries where FGM is widely practised.

FGM is not really a big issue in the UK.





FGM is a big problem in the UK. A report published by the Government in 2014 estimated that 170,000 survivors of FGM are living in the UK. It is thought that another 65,000 girls aged under 14 living in the UK are at risk of FGM.

FGM is necessary because Islam says so.





One of the principles of Islam is that believers should not harm themselves or others. The Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as "un-Islamic".

I know FGM is painful at first but there are no long term health effects.





FGM is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN) as a brutal and cruel practice which has no benefits at all and in fact can lead to short and long-term health problems. In some cases it can lead to death.

If mothers and grandmothers have been cut then daughters/grand-daughters must be cut too.





Daughters of mothers and grandmothers who have undergone FGM are usually expected to do the same. However, this is not the case in the UK where FGM is illegal and considered to be child abuse.

FGM is a disease.





FGM is not a disease - it is a cultural tradition.

There is no-one girls can talk to about FGM without their families knowing.





Help is available for girls and women in the UK who feel they or somebody they know is at risk of FGM or who have been subjected to FGM.  Anybody can ring or email the NSPCC FGM help line ☎ 0800 028 3550 or @ fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk. Girls can also speak to teachers at school as they are now much more aware of the issue of FGM.

FGM is a form of child abuse/violence against women





The law sees FGM as child abuse if performed on a girl under 18. If the girl is over 18 it is seen as violence against women.

FGM is against the law in the UK.





FGM is illegal in the UK. Any person found guilty of being involved in FGM faces going to prison for up to 14 years.

Girls are frequently sent to other countries to have FGM.





Many girls from FGM practising communities living in the UK are sent abroad to be cut usually in the school summer holidays (July/August). Girls will not know what is going to happen to them, they will simply think they are going on holiday to visit relatives. The majority of parents will know that FGM is illegal in the UK which is why they will choose to send their daughters abroad. However sending a girl abroad for FGM is also illegal under UK law.

How is FGM carried out?

FGM is usually carried out by an older woman, sometimes known as a "cutter". In nearly all cases girls are not given any pain relief. Girls are usually held down so that they cannot move while their private parts are being cut.

How will FGM affect my health?

FGM has NO health benefits and causes lots of problems.

Physical Problems

These include problems from actually being cut and problems which happen afterwards. Some of these problems are:

  • Extreme pain
  • Infection
  • Severe bleeding
  • Pain when having a wee
  • Constant urine infections
  • Problems in becoming pregnant
  • Difficulties when in labour and childbirth
  • Difficulties with physical relationships
  • Death from bleeding

Psychological Problems

FGM can also cause psychological or mental health problems for girls, which may stay with them for life. These can include:

  • Feeling frightened
  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling traumatised or in shock
  • Feeling alone

These problems can sometimes lead to difficulties at school and college and future relationships with sexual partners. They can also cause girls to feel betrayed by their families.

Why is FGM practised?

FGM has been practiced by many ethnic groups across the world for hundreds of years. It is a cultural practice and is passed on from generation to generation. In these communities families tend to accept what their elders e.g. grandmothers and grandfathers tell them to do as they are seen as "wise" people.

Cultural tradition often means that FGM is seen as an important part of raising a daughter. One of the reasons for this is that families believe that a girl, who is cut, is pure and clean and will find a good husband who will look after her in the future.

Parents of girls who are not cut say they may find it hard to find a husband for their daughters and will find themselves and their family cut off and ignored by the community. Many mothers and fathers believe FGM is normal and that they are doing the "right" thing by allowing their daughters to be cut.

It is very difficult for anyone to speak out against the cultural traditions of their community.

Across the world it is estimated that 125 million girls and women are survivors of FGM. Most of these live in just 29 African and Middle Eastern countries.

[www] View a larger map at the Womans Stats Project | womanstats.org/substatics/Prevalence%20of%20Female%20Genital%20Cutting_2011tif_wmlogo3.png

However FGM can be found in other regions, including SE Asia, and of course in Europe including the UK.

[www] Watch Hazel Barrett on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mvdkI3DxOo

In some communities, a girl who is not cut is seen as unclean. FGM is seen as a way of making sure that girls are pure and remain virgins until they marry.

Mothers know that FGM is extremely painful and dangerous, because they have experienced it themselves. However, they believe that it makes their daughters tougher and prepares them for future challenges such as childbirth.

Where is FGM happening in the UK?

FGM is an issue in the UK because so many people have settled here from countries where FGM is commonly practiced. It is estimated that 170,000 girls and women living in England and Wales are survivors of FGM. Many of these had FGM before coming to this country. Approximately 65,000 girls under the age of 13 who have been born in England and Wales are at risk of FGM.

There are more cases of FGM in large cities and towns, for example, London, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham, Reading, and Coventry as they are home to high numbers of people from countries where FGM is practised.

FGM is illegal in the UK

In the UK FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Female Circumcision Act). In 2003 the law was updated and renamed the Female Genital Mutilation Act. This means that anyone found to be involved in FGM including sending girls abroad for FGM can be prosecuted and sent to prison for up to 14 years.

Under UK law FGM is regarded as a human rights issue. When it involves a girl under 18 years it is regarded as child abuse and when it involves a women over the age of 18 it is treated as violence against women.

What is the UK Government doing?

The UK government has promised to end FGM in a generation - that's approximately 20 - 25 years. It has introduced a number of different measures to try to achieve this aim. These include:

  • Making sure girls and young women at risk of FGM are kept safe
  • Caring for women who have already experienced FGM
  • Training teachers in primary and secondary schools about FGM
  • Training nurses, doctors and other health workers about FGM
  • Making sure that all hospitals, GP surgeries and medical centres report FGM cases

[www] Watch Seema Molhotra on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4LU-2ICc_8

What else is going on?

There is a drive to end FGM in the UK and worldwide. Charities, community groups, and the media are all getting involved.

Two newspapers, the London Evening Standard and the Guardian are doing a lot of work to raise awareness and to put pressure on the Government to do more to stamp out FGM. The Guardian started the worldwide "End FGM" campaign.

The NSPCC have launched a free telephone help line for anyone in the UK worried about FGM happening to them or anyone they know.

At the same time there are individual young women speaking out against FGM. These are women who have undergone FGM – they are called FGM survivors.

All of these actions are leading to many more people knowing about FGM and joining the national and worldwide campaign to end FGM.

Short Films

“Unstitch” is a short film made by two young women Anam Ali and Deeqa Ahmed. Although they live in Birmingham, they are of Somali heritage.  They made this film because they want to raise awareness of FGM, and encourage people to speak up if they think someone they know is at risk of FGM. They are part of Fixers UK which is about young people using their past to fix the future.
[www] Watch Unstitch on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D-ge_D8LhA

“Think Again” is a film made by ‘The Young People Speak Out’ project led by FORWARD, a charity based in London which campaigns against FGM. The film is about a 12-year-old girl whose mother has told her she has to be cut and her conversations with friends at school.
[www] Watch Think Again on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzBNTtR7toE

“The Silent Scream” is a short film made by the charity Integrate Bristol. This film is about Yasmin, a young woman living in Bristol, who is trying to persuade her mother not to put her sister through FGM.
[www] Watch The Silent Scream on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTNfx8Px9Zo

“It Stops with Me” is a short film made by Coventry City Council with local people, all wanting to end FGM.
[www] Watch It Stops with Me on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q16OmOp26bk

Women survivors speak out

More and more survivors of FGM are standing up and speaking out against the practice. Speaking out takes a lot of courage. These women are able to talk about their experience of FGM and how it has affected their lives. They are doing this to warn other girls and young women who might be at risk.

“Ifrah Ahmed” Ifrah was born in Somalia but now lives in Ireland. In this video clip she talks about FGM.
[www] Watch Ifrah Ahmed on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4sg2Lxz2hk

“Leyla Hussein” Leyla was born in Somalia but now lives in England. She is psychotherapist and co-founder of Daughters of Eve an organisation set up to support to support girls at risk of FGM and FGM survivors. In this video clip she talks about FGM.
[www] Watch Leyla Hussein on Youtube Clip Two | www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYHPOrOnung&start=278&end=319

“Hoda Ali” This is a video of Hoda talking about her FGM experience at a conference in Coventry in November 2014.
[www] Watch Hoda Ali on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t7-4Quxhs4

“NSPCC: Ending Female Genital Mutilation” In this film made by the NSPCC you can hear FGM survivors talking about their experiences.
[www] Watch Ending Female Genital Mutilation on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=04qAO5ZzZdY

What are boys and men saying about FGM?

Many boys and men in England do not really understand what FGM is and how it affects girls and women. Once they are made aware, many are shocked and start to speak out against FGM and are joining campaigns to end it.

“Fadel Takrouri” talking at the Ending Female Genital Multilation in Coventry.
[www] Watch Fadel Takrouri on Youtube Clip One | www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CWoApve8Aw
[www] Watch Fadel Takrouri on Youtube Clip Two | www.youtube.com/watch?v=llnJQHhL5P0

“Now that you know, say NO to FGM” is a short film made by a group of young men. The aim of the film is to tell young men about FGM and what men can do to stop it happening.
[www] Watch Now that you know, say NO to FGM on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWbwqyHyHU8

“Charlie” a student from Sierra Leone talks about FGM.
[www] Listen to Charlie on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiELrtDq-ic

What are religious leaders saying about FGM?

FGM is carried out in communities of different faiths, including Christians and Muslims. Some parents think they have to do FGM to their daughters for "religious" reasons.

However, no religion supports or promotes FGM. Many religious leaders from all faiths are beginning to speak out against FGM.

At the Girl Summit in 2014, over 240 religious leaders signed the FGM Religious Leaders Declaration. This says:

  • FGM is a grave violation of the rights of girls and women.
  • FGM is child abuse
  • FGM can lead to serious health problems and in some cases even death.
  • FGM is not a religious requirement.
  • Causing harm and distress is not condoned by any faith.

Religious leaders from the following religious groups signed this declaration:

  • The Muslim Council of Britain
  • The Church of England
  • Muslim Women's Network UK
  • Ismaili Community UK,
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Association
  • National Council of Hindu Temples
  • Al Khoei Foundation

[www] UK inter-faith declaration (MS Word Document) | www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/351564/Signed_Declaration2.docx

The Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of FGM as "un-Islamic".

“FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur'an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute.”

Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said:

“We at the MCB are pleased to address this very important issue of female genital mutilation. Working closely together we can end this practice and ensure it is no longer linked to the religion of Islam or the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.”

They also say that 'one of the "basic principles" of Islam is that believers should not harm themselves or others.'

“Fadel Takrouri” talking at the Ending Female Genital Multilation in Coventry.
[www] Watch Fadel Takrouri on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rlyI4qUek8

What are organisations saying about FGM?

Fahma Mohamed, who spearheaded a campaign for the perils of FGM to be highlighted for girls in British schools, with her petition outside the Department for Education in London. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian Christian Sinibaldi/Guardian. Courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

“End FGM campaign” In 2014 The Guardian newspaper launched an End FGM campaign. This campaign resulted in nearly 250,000 signatures being collected in just over 20 days and Michael Gove (then Education Secretary), writing to all schools telling them to take action against FGM.
[www] Watch End FGM campaign on The Guardian website | www.theguardian.com/society/video/2014/feb/26/guardian-fgm-petition-campaign-video

Fahma Mohamed at the Women of the Year Lunch with Stephen Lawrence’s mother, Doreen. Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images. Courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

“Fahma Mohamed” Fahma Mohamed was the face of the Guardian's 'End FGM' campaign and was awarded Good Housekeeping's outstanding young campaigner of the year award in October 2014.
[www] Fahma Mohamed - The Guardian | www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/13/fahma-mohamed-anti-fgm-wins-good-housekeeping-award

“Because I am a Girl Campaign” organised by Plan UK is the biggest global campaign for girls' rights. Plan UK are a charity which work with vulnerable children across the world. They are campaigning to end FGM, child marriage and violence/abuse.
[www] Because I am a Girl Campaign - Plan UK | www.plan-uk.org/because-i-am-a-girl/fgm-rose/#sthash.ErT8Dwks.dpuf

“How Coventry is tackling the issue of FGM” This is a 12 minute film made by Coventry City Council which features people from Coventry & Warwickshire University Hospital, Coventry City Council, the British Arab Federation and Celestinecelest Community Organisation talking about FGM and how they are working together to stamp it out.
[www] Watch How Coventry is tackling the issue of FGM on YouTube | www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak_g8woS4Zc

What can I do to end FGM?

Lots of people and organisations are taking action to end FGM - you can too! Here are some suggestions.

  • Share this web app with your friends and talk to each other.
  • Set up a group at school or college to promote the ending of FGM.
  • Make a promise to inform someone who can help and take action if you know or suspect someone is at risk of FGM. This person could be your personal tutor at school/college, school nurse, your doctor, nurse at your surgery/health centre.
  • Make a promise not to perform FGM on your own daughters.
  • Look after your girl friends.
  • Look after your sisters.
  • Be alert - look out for warning signs that a girl may come to harm or has already.
  • Spread the word - make sure all girls know the facts about FGM and the harm it causes.
  • Do a google search to see if there are any organisations or community groups working to end FGM that you could join where you live.
  • Make a film and put it on YouTube. There are different examples on this app of films young people have made.

What do I do if...?

Scenario 1: Fatou and Amie

Fatou and her sister Amie are really excited because in a couple of days they are going to West Africa to visit their grandmother and other relatives. Their parents have bought them lots of new clothes and they have had their hair braided. Their relatives are also going to be organising a big party for them. They are looking forward to spending four weeks of their school summer holiday abroad.

However, the night before they are due to leave, Fatou overhears her mother talking to her grandmother on the telephone. She hears her mother saying the word "sunna" a number of times.  That night Fatou cannot sleep, because she knows that sunna is FGM. The next morning the family go to the airport, but by this time Fatou realises that she and her sister are going to West Africa for FGM.

What should Fatou do?

Fatou is right to be worried for herself and her sister and should speak to an official person at the airport.  This could be the person who checks her ticket and baggage or the passport officer when she shows her passport. It could even be the steward or stewardess on the plane.  It is then the duty of the people they have told  to make sure that Fatou and her sister are kept safe. The people who work at the airport will know about the dangers of FGM.

The UK Government has developed a FGM community wallet card which can be printed out and kept in a purse or wallet.

[www] FGM Wallet Card | www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/320928/FGMcommunityWalletCard.pdf

Scenario 2: Marianna and Nimco

Marianna is looking forward to going to school tomorrow. It is the first day at secondary school. She is also looking forward to seeing her best friend, Nimco, who she has not seen all summer as Nimco spent the summer in Africa visiting her relatives.

When Marianna sees Nimco she runs up to greet her but is shocked to find that Nimco is "down" and unhappy and will not answer any of her questions about her trip to Africa. During the day Nimco has to keep going to the toilet and Marianna notices that she is not walking normally. Marianna begins to think something bad has happened to her friend over the summer holidays.

What should Marianna do?

Marianna is clearly a good friend to Nimco and unlike their new teachers knows what Nimco was like before she visited Africa. She is right to be worried about her friend and should tell a teacher, personal tutor or the school nurse. They will then find out what has happened and make sure Nimco gets the support and help she needs.

Scenario 3: Hussain and his sisters

Hussain is the eldest brother of three sisters. Now that he is 16 he has more freedom and is treated like an adult. One evening when his sisters are in bed his parents start to discuss the fact that it is time for his sisters to become women. He is surprised to hear that his parents are to buy them presents and to have a big party when all their relatives, friends and neighbours will be invited. He wonders why he was not given a big party when he became a man. Then his parents start discussing who should make them a woman, a local cutter or one flown in from home. Hussain suddenly realises that his parents are planning to have his sisters cut.

What should Hussain do?

Hussain needs to ring the national NSPCC FGM Helpline or ChildLine to get help and advice. He can also ring the school his sisters attend and speak to their personal tutors or teachers. These organisations will then take action to protect his sisters.

NSPCC FGM helpline
☎ 0800 028 3550
☎ 0800 1111

Other people to talk to for help and advice

Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid, Birmingham
☎ 0808 800 0028 (Free phone)

Dahlia Project, London
A group therapy and individual counselling service for women over 18 who are affected by FGM
☎ 0207 272 0995
@ admin@mayacentre.org.uk

BSCA FGM Project, Bolton
☎ 01204 399239

Daughters of Eve, London
☎ 0798 303 0488

BAWSO, (Black Association of Women Step Out) Wales
☎ 0800 731 8147 (free 24 hour helpline)
[www] www.bawso.org.uk

AMINA - the Muslim Women's Support Centre, Scotland
☎ 0808 801 0301
[www] www.mwrc.org.uk

Women's Aid Northern Ireland
☎ 0808 802 1414 (free 24 hour helpline)
☎ Text support to 07797 805 839
@ 24hrsupport@dvhelpline.org

Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC)
☎ 02476 277777
@ info@crasac.org.uk
[www] www.crasac.org.uk

Women's Support Project
Adelphi Centre, 12 Commercial Road, Glasgow, G5 0PQ
☎ 0141 418 0748
@ enquiries@womenssupportproject.org.uk

125 McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4NW
☎ 0131 556 9302
@ info@saheliya.co.uk

Children's Services Departments

Each local authority has a Children’s Services Department whose role is to ensure that children living in their area are kept safe and do not come to any harm.

If you wish to contact them it may be easier to do so through your school or college as they will have the contact names and contact details.

Other people to talk to are:

  • A personal tutor at school or college; or talk to any other teacher that you trust.
  • Your school nurse
  • Local GP/doctor or the nurse in your local surgery.
  • Local police station - ask to speak to a child protection officer.

There are over 14 specialist clinics across the UK which are supporting women who have undergone FGM.  Please click on the following link for the full list:
[www] NHS Specialist Services for Female Genital Mutilation | www.bava.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/List-of-FGM-Clinics-Mar-14-FINAL.pdf

Please speak to someone about your concerns because help is available.

What do I do if I know a girl is at risk of FGM?

Talk to someone you trust. This could be a personal tutor, teacher at school, your school nurse or local doctor.  Or you can ring the NSPCC helpline.
☎ 0800 028 3550
@ fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

What or who is an FGM survivor?

Girls and women who have undergone FGM.

Will I get into trouble for speaking out?

No you will not get into any trouble. You are trying to prevent another girl or yourself being hurt.  Once you have told a personal tutor, teacher, school nurse, doctor or contacted the NSPCC you have done all that you can do. They will know what to do next so you do not need to worry.

What happens after I ask for help?

The organisations and individuals listed in the support section will offer advice and guidance that is personal to you. It is their responsibility to support and protect girls at risk.

What would happen to my parents if I have already had FGM?

If you had FGM in another country BEFORE you came to live in the UK, there is nothing anyone could do. However, there is still plenty of help and support available to you. You can visit your local doctor or nurse, talk to someone at school or contact organisations yourself ( a list is in the support section). You can also ring the NSPCC FGM helpline for advice.

If you had FGM AFTER you began living in the UK your parents could be prosecuted. This is because they have broken the law. FGM is illegal in the UK and it is also illegal to send someone living in the UK to another country to be cut.

However, the people who would make the decisions about whether or not to prosecute your parents would always be sensitive and mindful on the impact it has on you.

If you have younger sisters, people in authority who make the decisions will need to feel certain they are not at risk of FGM.

What would happen to my parents if I believe I am at risk of FGM?

If you believe you are at risk and you tell someone in authority (personal tutor, teacher, doctor, nurse) or you have rung the NSPCC FGM helpline, your parents will be contacted by the police and/or social services. Your parents will be told about the law in the UK - i.e. FGM is illegal here and FGM is child abuse and anyone breaking the law will be prosecuted.

Some young people will not want their parents to get into trouble because they love them and this is understandable. However, the only way to stop FGM in this country is for all young girls at risk to realise that they have rights over their own bodies and the right to be safe at all times - your parents must respect your rights.

Any interaction with your parents by the police or children’s services will focus on ensuring you remain safe.


An organised course of action agreed within a group to achieve a goal.

Child abuse

This is when an adult harms or hurts a child. It can also be an older child harming a younger child.

Community group

A group of people who have the same interests.


The ability to take action and do something even if you feel frightened or unsure.

Cultural practice

Something people do because their families and communities have always done it.


An announcement of intent to do something.

Ethnic Group

A group of people who share a distinctive common culture, religion, language, etc...


A term used in some communities, for example Guineau Bissau for female genital mutilation (FGM).

Female circumcision

A term used in some communities for female genital mutilation (FGM).

Female genitalia

A girl's or woman’s private parts.

Female genital cutting

A term used in some communities for female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM survivor

A girl or woman who has undergone FGM.

Grave violation

Serious abuse of a human right.


A term used in some communities, for example in the Horn of Africa, for female genital mutilation (FGM).


A way of doing something, a course of action or a medical operation.


Something which affects the mind and the way we think and feel.


A term used in some communities, especially Muslim communities, for female genital mutilation (FGM).


An established belief or custom generally inherited from generation to generation.


A long lasting shock, physical and/or mental, caused by a horrible experience or injury.

Urine infection

Urine infections make having a wee painful. Some girls will need antibiotics to get rid of the infection.


Physical actions which can cause serious damage, harm or death.


Someone who has never had sexual intercourse.


Easily harmed or hurt.


An application that runs in a web browser.

World Map Locations

You can use Google Maps if you wish to find out where different countries or cities are located in the UK or the world.
[www] Google Maps | www.google.co.uk/maps