Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a global public health issue. Women in the UK are at risk of FGM and its adverse health consequences but little is known about its practice. Since 1985 it has been a criminal offence to perform FGM in the UK and further legislation has tightened the law but FGM continues.
Four community researchers from the Kenyan, Nigerian, Somalian and Sudanese communities in Oxford conducted focus groups and interviews with 53 people to understand the communities’ beliefs about how best to prevent FGM.
Participants believed that the current UK legislation alone was not sufficient to tackle FGM and might in fact be counterproductive by alienating communities through its perceived imposition. They felt that there had been insufficient consultation with affected communities, awareness raising and education about the legislation. Community-led solutions were the most effective way to tackle FGM.
FGM adversely affects communities globally. In the UK, researchers from affected communities gathered data demonstrating the feasibility and importance of involving communities in FGM prevention work. Further research is needed to understand how best to prevent FGM in affected communities and, very importantly, to examine the impact of the UK legislation relating to FGM.