Female genital mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure that intentionally changes or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is a crime in Australia. It's also a crime in Australia if performed on an Australian overseas.
This page provides information on:
- what FGM is
- FGM and the law
- preventing FGM
- how to report FGM in Australia
- how to report FGM from overseas
This page is for people considering taking an infant, child or woman overseas for FGM. It's also for those who think or know someone is being taken overseas for FGM.
If you fear you're family is taking you overseas for FGM, contact your local police or dial 000 immediately. Police can act urgently to protect you.
What is FGM?
The World Health Organisation (the WHO) is the authority on identifying and eliminating female genital mutilation (FGM). The WHO describes FGM as any procedure that involves injury to, or removal of, external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
It can cause serious and long-lasting health problems for the victim.
The WHO estimates that:
- between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone FGM worldwide
- 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure every year
For more information, see the female genital mutilation fact sheet (the WHO).
FGM and the law
FGM is a crime in Australia. This includes acts committed overseas as well as in Australia.
It's a crime to:
- take or arrange to take a child overseas for FGM
- take an Australian resident overseas for FGM
- perform FGM
- witness FGM
Penalties may include a maximum of 7-21 years in prison.
In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution A/RES/67/146 condemning FGM. The resolution encourages member states to work harder to end the harmful practice.
The Australian Government sees FGM as an abuse of the rights of women and girls. The Government supports all actions to stop the practice around the world.
It's every Australian's responsibility to take steps to prevent FGM. If you think someone is being taken overseas for FGM, report it.
How to report FGM
If you're in Australia, report FGM to your local police. You can report it anonymously.
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
If you have witnessed FGM, or learn that someone had performed FGM, report it. It is illegal to not report FGM. If you fail to report a crime, you could be arrested or jailed.
If you're overseas and someone you know has been taken overseas for FGM, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate. You can also call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305.
- See our information about forced marriage.
- Read our pages on child sex offenses and preventing sexual assault.
- Understand what happens if you're arrested or jailed.
- Understand how the Australian Government can help overseas. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- See the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting factsheet (Department of Social Services).
- Read about female genital mutilation (World Health Organisation).
- Learn more about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (National Education Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Awareness).
- Get crisis counselling (1800 RESPECT).
A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people. Learn more about forced marriage.