Female genital mutilation


Female genital mutilation is a procedure that involves altering or removing the external genitalia and is an old tradition in many places. Many people call female genital mutilation 'circumcision' or 'sunna'.

Female genital mutilation is a criminal offence

  • Female genital mutilation is harmful to health. It can harm girls and women for life. That is why this is prohibited in most countries.
  • The procedure normally takes place when a girl is between 5 and 14 years old, but is also performed on infants, young adults and grown women.
  • In Norway, all forms of female genital mutilation are prohibited, including 'sunna' circumcision. Removing a small part of the genitals is just as illegal as removing a lot.
  • People who perform or assist female circumcision can be sentenced to up to ten years' imprisonment. Foreign nationals who are convicted can also be expelled from Norway.
  • Parents can be punished if their daughter is circumcised and it would have been possible for them to prevent the circumcision. This applies even if the procedure takes place in another country. 

Help for you who have been or fear that you will be subjected to female genital mutilation

You can get help from the Norwegian authorities if you fear that you will be or if you have already undergone female genital mutilation.

You can be provided with

  • safe accommodation at a crisis centre or from the child welfare service
  • guidance about your situation
  • legal assistance to report the matter to the police

If you fear that you or your daughter will be subjected to female genital mutilation in your home country, you can apply for protection (asylum) in Norway. If you know of a child who is at risk of female genital mutilation, you must notify the child welfare service or the police.

If there is a risk that a girl or woman will be subjected to female genital mutilation in her home country, the police can confiscate her passport.

Read more in the information brochures available in different languages (external website) from the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.   

Health care for women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation

Many girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation before arriving in Norway. Being circumcised is not prohibited, but parents have a duty to ensure that daughters who have undergone female genital mutilation receive the necessary health care.

 To receive health care, you can contact

  • a doctor, health visitor or midwife where you live
  • the women's clinic at hospitals in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Tromsø and Trondheim. They have special departments that help girls and women who have been circumcised.

Read more in the information brochures available in different languages (external website) from the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.

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