This publication has been written for nurses, midwives and specialist practitioners in public health. Some health care professionals work closely with communities who have practised female genital mutilation (FGM) for generations while many others may rarely come across this practice. FGM affects the lives and health of an estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women around the world (WHO, 2000) and 86,000 in the UK (Powell et al., 2002). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that two million are cut every year.
In producing this document we want to ensure that all nurses, midwives and specialist practitioners in public health are informed about FGM, and understand the socio-cultural, legal and health issues that surround the practice. FGM is against the law in the UK and raises serious concerns and issues around
the safeguarding of girls and young women. It is vital that practitioners who come into contact with women, children and their families from communities that practise FGM have adequate knowledge and understanding of the issues to be able to respond appropriately and meet their needs, and also to act within contemporary law and policy.