Female genital mutilation (FGM)
3.1 For the purpose of this policy, ‘female genital mutilation’, commonly referred to as FGM, is defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs.
3.2 All staff will be alert to the possibility of a girl being at risk of FGM, or already having suffered FGM. If staff members are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or who has been a victim of FGM, they are required to share this information with social care or the police.
3.3 Teachers are personally required to report to the police any discovery, whether through disclosure by the victim or visual evidence, of FGM on a girl under the age of 18. Teachers failing to report such cases will face disciplinary action.
NB: The above does not apply to any suspected or at risk cases, nor if the individual is over the age of 18. In such cases, local safeguarding procedures will be followed.
3.4 There are a range of potential indicators that a pupil may be at risk of FGM. While individually they may not indicate risk, if two or more indicators are present, this could signal a risk to the pupil.
3.5 Victims of FGM are most likely to come from communities that are known to adopt this practice. It is important to note that the pupil may not yet be aware of the practice or that it may be conducted on them, so it is important for staff to be sensitive when broaching the subject.
3.6 Indicators that may show a heightened risk of FGM include the following:
- The position of the family and their level of integration into UK society
- Any girl with a mother or sister who has been subjected to FGM
3.7 Indicators that may show FGM could take place soon
- The risk of FGM increases when a female family elder is visiting from a country of origin
- A girl may confide that she is to have a ‘special procedure’ or a ceremony to ‘become a woman’
- A girl may request help from a teacher if she is aware or suspects that she is at immediate risk
3.8 It is important that staff look for signs that FGM has already taken place so that help can be offered, enquiries can be made to protect others, and criminal investigations can begin.
3.9 Indicators that FGM may have already taken place include the following:
- Difficulty walking, sitting or standing
- Spending longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
- Spending long periods of time away from a classroom during the day with bladder or menstrual problems
- Prolonged or repeated absences from school followed by withdrawal or depression
- Reluctance to undergo normal medical examinations
- Asking for help, but not being explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear
3.10 Teachers will not examine pupils, and so it is rare that they will see any visual evidence, but they will report to the police where an act of FGM appears to have been carried out. Unless the teacher has a good reason not to, they should also consider and discuss any such case with the DSL and involve Children’s Social Care as appropriate.
3.11 FGM is also included in the definition of ‘honour-based’ violence (HBV), which involves crimes that have been committed to defend the honour of the family and/or community, alongside forced marriage and breast ironing.
3.12 All forms of HBV are forms of abuse, and will be treated and escalated as such.
3.13 Staff will be alert to the signs of HBV, including concerns that a child is at risk of HBV, or has already suffered from HBV, and will activate local safeguarding procedures if concerns arise.