The RCN is actively engaged in supporting best practice to help raise awareness among all health care professionals about FGM – what it is, where it takes place, how we can be engaged in its prevention, and how health care professionals and members of the nursing and midwifery team can help and support women who have been physically emotionally or psychosexually damaged by this act.
FGM affects the lives and health of an estimated 200 million girls and women living in countries where the practice is prevalent (UNICEF, 2016). The World Health Organization identifies FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women (WHO, 2014). The practice is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, commonly before puberty starts, and can have long-term negative effects on their health and wellbeing.
FGM is child abuse and the practice is illegal in the UK. The 'hidden' nature of the crime raises serious issues and concerns in relation to the safeguarding of girls and young women. It is vital that practitioners who come into contact with women, children and families from communities that practice FGM have an adequate knowledge and understanding of the issues in order to respond appropriately and act within contemporary legal frameworks.
For more information and RCN resources on safeguarding please see safeguarding.