Faith, Belief & Harmful Practices

City and Hackney FGM Protocol

No single agency can eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); there is a need for different agencies to work together to help prevent and tackle it, as well as to support FGM survivors using a trauma-informed approach. This local protocol provides agencies with an understanding of FGM and what actions they should take to safeguard girls and women who they believe are at risk or who have already undergone FGM.  It follows the Multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation and sets out local referral pathways.

FGM Statutory Guidance

Multi-agency guidelines on FGM for those with statutory duties to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

FGM Resource Pack

Resources includes examples of effective practices and emphasises what works in protecting survivors and those at risk of  FGM.

The 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).  In 2017, the Centre’s remit was extended to include Breast Ironing/Flattening and Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief.

Forced Marriage

forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it.  Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In cases of vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent to marriage, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.Forced marriage is a criminal offence and can seriously affect the health and development of those affected.

So Called 'Honour-Based Violence'

So called ‘honour crime’, ‘honour-based violence’ or ‘izzat’ (mainly a South Asian term) embrace a variety of crimes of violence mainly perpetrated towards girls and women, including assault, imprisonment and murder where the person is being punished by their family or their community. The family or community are punishing them for undermining what they believe to be the correct code of behaviour.

Failure to adhere to the correct code of behaviour is an indicator to the family that the person cannot be controlled to conform and this brings ‘shame’ to the family. ‘Honour-based violence’ usually occurs with some degree of approval by family and/ community members and it has an international dimension as victims can be taken overseas where the violence is then perpetrated. It can also be a trigger for a forced marriage.

Child Abuse Linked to Faith & Belief

Child abuse linked to faith or belief can be open to several different interpretations. This section focuses on children and young people accused of being a witch or of witchcraft and being abused because it is believe that they are ‘possesed’ by evil spirits (spirit possession). Abuse linked to faith or belief is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of children and young people and can have serious consequences.

Breast Flattening

Breast Flattening is the process during which young pubescent girls’ breasts are ironed, massaged, flattened and/or pounded down over a period of time (sometimes years) in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely.”


Karma Nirvana

Hawa Trust

National FGM Centre