Intended for healthcare professionals


Tackling female genital mutilation in the UK

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 07 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l15
  1. Sarah M Creighton, consultant gynaecologist1,
  2. Zimran Samuel, barrister2,
  3. Naana Otoo-Oyortey, executive director3,
  4. Deborah Hodes, consultant community paediatrician4
  1. 1Department of Women’s Health, University College London Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Doughty Street Chambers, London, UK
  3. 3Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD)
  4. 4Department of Paediatrics, University College London Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Creighton sarah.creighton2{at}

Current response is disproportionate and should be reconsidered

The term female genital mutilation (FGM) is justifiably contested for its blanket application to a wide range of procedures regardless of contexts and its separation from other forms of non-consensual genital cutting.1 Use of the term can be a barrier to understanding the different experiences of individuals and communities.2 However, it is used widely in policy documents and so we use it here in our discussion of the current UK response to criminalised genital cutting of girls and women.

From the 1980s a range of health and legal initiatives tackled FGM in the UK. The 2014 Girl Summit co-hosted by the UK Government and Unicef in London aimed to end FGM within a generation and included the Department of Health’s FGM prevention programme, requiring health professionals to submit patient data to the FGM enhanced dataset.3 The Serious Crime Act 2015 mandated professionals in health, social care, and education to report to the police all girls under 18 who disclose or have physical evidence of FGM with a view to …

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