Scottish Government considers Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to be an unacceptable and illegal practice, a form of abuse, violence against women, and a violation of the human rights of women and girls.

Those who choose to perpetrate FGM will be held to account and we are committed to working with all our partners and communities to ensure that we can protect those at risk.

What is FGM?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines FGM as ‘all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.

Globally the practice is mostly carried out by traditional “circumcisers”, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. However, more than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and this trend is increasing.

FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.  It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.  The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

No health benefits, only harm

FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways.  It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.

The Law in Scotland

FGM has been unlawful in Scotland since 1985. The Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 re-enacted the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 and extended protection by making it a criminal offence to have FGM carried out either in Scotland or abroad by giving those offences extra-territorial powers. The Act also increased the penalty on conviction on indictment from 5 to 14 years’ imprisonment.

The Scottish Government has worked collaboratively with the UK Government to close a loophole in the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005.  This extends the reach of the extra-territorial offences in that Act to habitual (as well as permanent) UK residents.  This strengthening of legislation is included in the Serious Crime Act 2015 .

Support Organisations

If you are worried that a young person is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, you must report your concerns to the relevant statutory authority such as police and or social work.

The links below contain information on organisations you can go to for help:


In order to support the women and girls who are affected and to counteract the continued practice of FGM, the Scottish Government uses a multi-agency approach involving relevant agencies, professionals and communities and a variety of interventions.

To support this multi-agency approach there are a wide range of resources available to learn about the often complex issues that surround FGM and how you can respond to any concerns.


Rites is a powerful and provocative new theatre production, created in 2015 by Cora Bissett and Yusra Warsama which toured to venues across the UK. It explores the deep-rooted cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation. This ritual of enforced cutting has been performed for centuries and millions of girls worldwide, often as young as five years old, are still subjected to it. The reasons are complicated and myriad. It depends who you are, and it depends what you've been taught. Some things are simple though: FGM is still happening across the world. FGM is happening in the UK, here and now. Link to view the trailer- https://vimeo.com/138978047  
Rites is based on recent interviews and true stories from girls affected in Scotland and the rest of the UK, mothers who feel under pressure to continue the practice, and the experiences of midwives, lawyers, police officers, teachers and health workers trying to effect change in communities. Weaving together different perspectives into a multi-voiced production, the play explores the complexities, misconceptions and challenges involved in trying to change what is to many, a fundamental rite of passage.

Rites is a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and Contact, supported by the Scottish Refugee Council and Dignity Alert Research Forum and directed by Cora Bissett.

If you are interested in knowing more about Rites please go to www.nationaltheatrescotland.com or contact pamela.walker@nationaltheatrescotland.com.

The True Story of Ghati and Rhobi

This is a short animated film about how FGM was stopped in one village - Available in English and Swahili

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEnf4Xa0dQ                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1qR7n8hi4w

Guidance Information and training materials

The Women's Support Project have produced a range of Materials including: a DVD, information leaflets for practitioners highlighting key points, good practice, resources and services, and a standardised training package and risk assessment tool and an FGM statement that sets out the law in relation to FGM in Scotland.

These Materials can be accessed at:


Education Scotland working with partners and Education Authority staff has produced a short supported PowerPoint presentation, which authorities and headteachers can use to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in schools and early years settings.

The resource has been developed to increase the knowledge and understanding of staff to enable them to better safeguard children from the abuses associated with FGM.

You can access the resource here

NHS Scotland

A letter from the Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Medical Officer in Scotland was issued in July 2014 to update health care professionals (in Scotland) on developments in Scotland related to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The purpose was to help healthcare professionals recognise the condition, some of the presenting symptoms and the services most likely to come across the condition and to encourage healthcare professionals in NHS Scotland to record the diagnosis and types of FGM, together with any corrective procedures, in the relevant clinical records.

You can access the letter here

A letter from the Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Medical Officer in Scotland was issued in July 2015 to inform health professionals (in Scotland) of the additional resources available to support the delivery of services to people who have had FGM or at risk of FGM. It also provides a reminder to be alert to young girls being taken out of Scotland to have FGM performed.

You can access the letter here


This letter provides guidance for the healthcare services required: 

  • To support women and girls when FGM is disclosed or identified; and 
  • To prevent FGM and protect those at risk of FGM

The guidance in this letter is to enable NHS Boards to deliver the actions expected from them as described in the Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate FGM.

You can access this letter here


The Scottish Government provided funding to the Scottish Refugee Council to support a project which has produced a report providing evidence based baseline information to inform the work of FGM in Scotland. Specifically, the report identifies and analyses existing data; reviews past work undertaken to tackle, prevent or raise awareness; and draws learning from best practices on what works and what does not in the UK and Europe related to service provision, prevention and prosecutions.

You can read the report here

Useful Links

Scotland's National Action Plan - To prevent and Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

An FGM Multi Agency Short Life Working Group was established in 2014 with the objective to recommend a consistent multi-agency approach to be taken in Scotland towards the elimination of the practice of FGM.   The group worked collaboratively with a range of stakeholders from the statutory, third sectors and with potentially affected communities to develop and publish on 04 February 2016 a National Action Plan to prevent and eradicate FGM.

The action plan sets out the objectives, actions and responsibilities required to drive and deliver change. These have been informed by research, experience of other countries, engagement with partners in all sectors and the experiences of communities, service providers and those who have been or are at risk. 

Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate FGM