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Female genital mutilation (FGM) in UK children: a review of a dedicated paediatric service for FGM

Abstract

Objective To describe the presentation and management of children with suspected or confirmed female genital mutilation (FGM) referred to a specialist paediatric clinic.

Methods Data collected included referral source, age, ethnicity, circumstances of FGM and clinical findings in accordance with the WHO FGM classification.

Results Between September 2014 and January 2019, 148 children attended the clinic of whom 55 (37.2%) had confirmed FGM. Police or social care referred 112 (76%) children. The proportion of looked-after children (LAC) was significantly higher in the group with confirmed FGM (17/55, 31%) compared with children where FGM was not confirmed (5/93, 5%). In almost all children where FGM was confirmed, FGM was initially disclosed by the child or family (53/55, 96%) and of these 48/55 (87%) underwent FGM prior to UK entry. The remaining seven cases were British children, potentially meeting legal criteria under the FGM Act, and one resulted in a successful prosecution.

Conclusions The number of children with FGM was significantly lower than expected based on UK prevalence estimates. Most children had undergone FGM prior to UK entry, and the majority of cases were initially disclosed by the child or family themselves. These results reflect the lack of large-scale proof of the practice of FGM in the UK and are consistent with growing evidence of the abandonment of FGM among communities after migration.

  • female genital mutilation
  • FGM
  • child abuse

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