The 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.
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 is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
The practice 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.
International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM
On 20 December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/67/146 in which it
“Calls uponStates, the United Nations system, civil society and all stakeholders to continue to observe 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and to use the day to enhance awareness- raising campaigns and to take concrete actions against female genital mutilations”.
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 closed 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 .
Scotland’s National Action Plan – To prevent and Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The Scottish Government published in 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. A Multi-Agency Implementation Group is overseeing the objectives, actions and activities required to deliver the changes required by the plan.
This Year One Report provides an update of the work that is being taken forward by the Scottish Government and its partners in the statutory and third sectors along with affected communities in relation to the actions and activities required to progress the outcomes of the FGM National Action Plan.
Responding to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) In Scotland – Multi Agency Guidance
This Multi-Agency Guidance provides a framework within which agencies and practitioners can develop and agree processes for working collaboratively and individually to promote the safety and wellbeing of women and girls and supplements agencies and organisations own policies and procedures on FGM.
It covers; how to identify whether a girl including an unborn girl)or young woman may be at risk of FGM; how to identify a girl or woman who has undergone FGM; how to protect those at risk and support those already affected; and how to prevent and end FGM.
Other Resources and Information
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.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) series of animated films on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
These short animated films where developed by the RCM in collaboration with The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), The Royal College General Practitioners (RCGP), survivors of FGM, NGOs and a variety of local community partners.
All three short animations can be viewed via the following links:
The Words Don’t Come
Its Our Time Now
Scottish Government Statement Opposing FGM
This statement aims to protect girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). You can print it and carry it with you – especially when you go abroad. This statement makes it clear that FGM is a serious criminal offence in Scotland and throughout the UK, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison for anyone found guilty of the offence.
Guidance Education and Training Materials
FGM Aware – 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.
- Womens Support Project
- FGM Aware
- Petals: Is a web app for young people, both girls and boys living in the UK who want to find out more about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
To increase the knowledge and understanding of staff and to help them to safeguard children from the abuses associated with FGM, Education Scotland, working with partners and Education Authority staff has produced a short supported PowerPoint presentation, to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in schools and early years settings.
You can access the resource here.
Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Medical Officer in Scotland issued in July 2014 a letter to help healthcare professionals in NHS Scotland recognise FGM; the services most likely to come across the condition and to record the diagnosis and types of FGM, in 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 provided a reminder to be alert to young girls being taken out of Scotland to have FGM performed.
You can access the letter here.
Guidance for service specification and standards for healthcare to prevent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and respond to the needs of the survivors – CMO/CNO letter 18 February 2016
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.
You can read the report here.
- NHS Inform
- Education Scotland FGM Resource
- National Guidance for Child Protection
- Womens Support Project
- FGM Aware
- Royal College of Nursing resource for nursing and midwifery practice
- NSPCC (including helpline number 0800 028 3550)
- UK Government FGM Resource Pack– resource will contain reference to policies and procedures in England and Wales
- FGM Training Resource– resource will contain reference to policies and procedures in England and Wales
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: