ABSTRACT

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a significant violation of the rights of women and children. It deprives them of their security, personal liberty and the right to health. FGM comprises all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons. This chapter discusses the historical and social context of FGM, types of FGM, why it is practised and its prevalence. The effect on women’s physical, sexual and psychological health is discussed, as well as issues related to childbirth and the law. The power of older women, as key decision makers in perpetuating FGM, is a further point of focus. Child safeguarding issues and what professionals should do when a child is at risk of FGM are addressed along with the role of the midwife as advocate and carer. The current movement and activities in the United Kingdom and at an international level are also discussed.