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Violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a hate crime and a violation of the Human Rights of women and girls.

In this section, you will find relevant information on domestic abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

Midwives have a duty to support each and every individual who seeks help as a result of violence, treating them with compassion, respect and dignity and referring them on to appropriate support and treatment (health and psychological care).

The RCM position on violence against women and girls can be found here.


Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of gender-based violence that is outlawed in many countries. FGM represents a violation of the human rights of the girls and women who are subjected to this practice, for which there are no medical benefits. FGM can have devastating and long term physical and psychological consequences for its victims.


Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK

The RCM launched a series of hard-hitting animated films on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), showing the reality of FGM through the medium of art, giving a much-needed voice to FGM survivors; illustrating the serious and life-long mental and physical implications of FGM for those who have to endure it.

As well as raising awareness, the films aim to cut through inaccurate and misleading information about FGM. 

The films were developed by the RCM in collaboration with the RCOG, RCGP, NGOs, a variety of local community partners, and vitally – survivors of FGM and can be viewed here.

We also have a Call to Act to End FGM poster which can be viewed here.






FGM Report coverThe RCM have contributed to Tackling FGM in the UK, an intercollegiate report which provides recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting. You can read this in full by logging in and visiting the RCM publications area.






Mandatory reporting (for England and Wales only)

The mandatory reporting duty for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been introduced through Section 74 Serious Crime Act 2015. This received Royal Assent on 3 March 2015.  A new section 5B has been introduced in the FGM Act 2003 that places a single personal mandatory reporting duty on persons who work in a 'regulated profession' in England and Wales. Healthcare professionals, teachers and social care workers are required to notify the police within one month, when, in the course of their work, they discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl who is under 18. The term 'discover' includes where the victim discloses to the professional that she has been subject to FGM, or where the professional observes the physical signs of FGM.

The new professional duty to report cases of FGM in girls under 18 to the police commenced on 31 October 2015.

Click here to view the publication, 'Q and A for Regulated Professionals: Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation'


Watch the NHS Choices video, which focuses on talking to patients about FGM.

Watch women talking about their personal experiences of female genital mutilation.

UK Government progress
On 22 July 2014 the Prime Minister and UNICEF hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. You can read about the key achievements and next steps here.

Resources to help you

The Department of Health along with NHS England and professional bodies, have developed a package of support including:

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

Resources for midwives

eLearning for healthcare training for healthcare professionals

The e-FGM educational programme has been developed by HEE e-Learning for Healthcare and is provided free to all healthcare professionals. Developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, and supported by the Department of Health’s FGM Prevention team, the material deals with the issues posed by FGM at all stages of a girl or woman’s life.


Female Genital Mutilation Risk and Safeguarding Guidance for professionals from the Department of Health

This document provides practical guidance, and is designed to provide an example which can be used to implement day-to-day frontline processes; it is not a substitute for existing multi-agency practice guidelines or statutory guidance.

Commissioning services to support women and girls with female genital mutilation from the Department of Health

This document sets out what some elements of a successful and safe service to support women and girls with female genital mutilation (FGM) might look like. It has been developed in partnership with healthcare professionals currently involved in providing healthcare services, and it aims to highlight what commissioners might want to consider when developing a new service.

FGM guidance for professionals from NHS Choices

You can find supporting materials and videos (including patient information leaflets and health passports in 11 languages) on the NHS Choices website.

Useful links

Girl Generation - Girl Generation is a global campaign that supports the Africa-led movement to end FGM.

Girls not brides - Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 500 civil society organisations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.