A GWENT MS has called on the Welsh Government to work with communities in Wales to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM.

Speaking in the Senedd earlier this week, South Wales East's Natasha Asghar grilled first minister Mark Drakeford on what is being done to stop the crime.

The Conservative MS said: “Female Genital Mutilation is a crime, and it is abuse.

“This practice can cause extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls, and it cannot be tolerated.”

The World Health Organisation said that up to February 2020, more than 200 million girls and women who were alive at the time had been a victim of FGM, and called it a violation of human rights.


The practice is common in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and as many as 30 countries are known to be places where the procedure is carried out. It has been illegal since 2003, however, it is widely believed that the practice is still being carried out – particularly in communities in the UK who have originated from countries where the practice is commonly done.

A study in 2015 based on the 2011 Census gave approximate figures of 60,000 girls aged between zero and 14 who were born in England and Wales were born to mothers who had undergone FGM, and approximately 103,000 women aged between 15 and 49 and around 24,000 aged 50 and over who migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM.

At the time of the study's publication in 2015, around 10,000 girls under the age of 15 who had migrated to England and Wales were likely to have undergone FGM.


But, due to the personal nature of the crime, it is thought many more could be suffering in silence after having the procedures done.

Ms Asghar continued: “Studies have shown two of the barriers to reporting new cases of FGM. First of all, there are fears of retribution from the wider community and concerns about interference in private family life.

"Secondly, secrecy concerning the practice means that traditional celebrations of FGM as a right of passage for girls are no longer held in the UK, and therefore wider family and community members may be unaware of FGM having taken place, or lack concrete evidence. "What is your government doing to heighten awareness that FGM is illegal, by working with those community leaders and groups most affected, to stamp out this practice once and for all here in Wales?"

Replying Mr Drakeford said: "The Welsh Government works at a variety of different levels to try and make sure that there's awareness of FGM, and that information about it can be communicated in a way that people are able to understand, that has some cultural sensitivity about it.

"But is nevertheless absolutely clear about the unacceptability of that practice here in Wales. At one end of the spectrum, that means that doctors are under an obligation to report instances of FGM if they think that they are coming across it, and at the other end of the spectrum we have community health workers, working directly in communities, making sure that information is available in languages, in ways that are genuinely available to those communities and the people who live in them.

"I share (Ms Asghar's) concern about the issue and I want to give an assurance that the Welsh Government works across the spectrum to try to pursue the issues in the way that she suggested."

What is FGM?

There are four classifications of Female Genital Mutilation, described by the World Health Organisation as:

• Type 1: The partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris), and/or the prepuce/clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).

• Type 2: The partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).

• Type 3: Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM).

• Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

It is also referred to by a number of different names including female circumcision or cutting, and by other terms, such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.

FGM is commonly carried out on girls from infancy and before age 15 as it is usually done before the child reaches puberty.

Anyone found to have committed the act can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison, with up to seven years for anyone found to have failed to protect a girl from FGM.


  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately on 999.
  • You can also contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk if you feel that you or someone else may be at risk.
  • If you are under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, speak to a GP, your health visitor or another healthcare professional for help. You can also contact the NSPCC helpline.
  • If you have already had FGM performed on you, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service. All you need to do is ask your GP, midwife or any other healthcare professional about the services available.