Female Genital Mutilation: Plastic Surgery

Department of Health written question – answered at on 27 November 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Gould of Potternewton Baroness Gould of Potternewton Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to issue guidance for all healthcare providers clarifying the circumstances under which procedures marketed as "female genital cosmetic surgery" may be necessary for a woman’s physical or mental health and therefore not banned under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, which makes female genital mutilation (FGM) a criminal offence, clearly sets out the medical circumstances in which it is not an offence to carry out a surgical operation on the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris: these circumstances are where the operation is carried out by an approved person (such as a medical professional) and is necessary for a woman or girl's physical or mental health or is for purposes connected with labour or birth. This surgery should not be undertaken within the National Health Service unless it is medically indicated.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) are clear in their guidelines, Female Genital Mutilation and its Management, published in July 2015, that Female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) may be prohibited unless it is necessary for the patient’s physical or mental health. All surgeons who undertake FGCS must take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the FGM Acts.” A copy of the guidelines is attached. The RCOG also published an ethical opinion paper in relation to female genital cosmetic surgery in 2013, which provides background briefing on FGM and explores the ethical considerations in relation to FGCS around consent, minors and clinical evidence. A copy of the opinion paper, Ethical considerations in relation to female genital cosmetic surgery (FCGS), is attached.

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