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Honour-based Abuse, Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation

Page last updated: 05/03/2019

Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines female genital mutilation as comprising all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external femal genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It has identified four different types of FGM - further information is available on the National FGM - FGM website

Breast Flattening
Breast flattening (also known as breast ironing) is the process whereby pubescent girls' breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down with hard / heated objects to make them disappear or delay their development. It is practiced in all of Cameroon and has been reported in Benin, Ivory Coast, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Togo, Zimbabwe and Guinea-Conakry. Further information is available on the National FGM - Breast Flattening website.  

Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief
There is a variety of definitions associated with abuse linked to faith or belief. The National Action Plan includes the below when referring to Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief (CALFB):
  • Witchcraft and spirit possession, demons or the devil acting through children or leading them astray (traditionally seen in some Christian beliefs)
  • The evil eye or djinns (traditionally known in some Islamic faith contexts) and, 
  • Dakini (in the Hindu context)
  • Ritual or muti-murders where the killing of children is believed to bring supernatural benefits or the use of their body parts is believed to produce potent magical remedies
  • Use of belief in magic or witchcraft to create fear in children to make them more compliant when they are being trafficked for domestic slavery or sexual exploitation
(This is not an exhaustive list and there will be other examples where children have been harmed when adults think that their actions have brought bad fortune).

National FGM Centre
The National FGM Centre is a partnership between Barnardo's and the Local Government Association (LGA) to achieve a systems change in the provision of services for children and families affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Funded by the Department of Education as part of its Children's Social Care Innovation Programme, the Centre works closely with key partners from Local Authorities, Health, Education, Police, and the voluntary sector to achieve its vision and aims. In 2017, the Centre's remit was extended to include Breast Ironing/Flattening and Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief. 

Resources and Key Documents:
The Home Office has launched a free online training package dealing with female genital mutilation (FGM), developed with Virtual College. It will give teachers, police, doctors, social workers and Border Force staff the training they need to help them identify and assist girls who are at risk of FGM.  The free online training provides safeguarding professionals with an overview of FGM and their responsibilities in FGM cases. It also contains information on how to prevent FGM and helps professionals support those who have been subjected to it. The training can be accessed by visiting the website: FGM Learning (Home Office, 2014)

The FGM Centre has produced a learning resource aimed at all professionals working with girls who could be at risk of/have undergone FGM, and this is available on the FGM Centre​ website.  ​​​