Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the United Kingdom within Immigrant Communities



The age-old tradition of Female Genital Cutting (FGC), most commonly known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is a coming-of-age ritual practiced in some countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. It is also practiced in the immigrant communities that migrate from these regions to Western countries. There are a multitude of physical and mental health issues associated with FGC, including chronic infections, infertility, anxiety and depression, complications during childbirth, and death. In 1985, the United Kingdom criminalized the practice of FGC in order to eliminate it. However, evidence suggests that criminalization has been ineffective and that immigrant communities continue to practice FGC without proper medical training and equipment. This paper proposes that replacing criminalization with harm reduction programs will allow policy makers to obtain accurate data on FGC in the UK in order to inform the development of future programs that will ultimately eradicate the practice.