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This content now lives on our new site: FGM

Female Genital Mutilation

Scottish Government considers Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to be an unacceptable and illegal practice, a form of child abuse, violence against women, and a violation of the human rights of women and girls.  Those who commit FGM abuse 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 will extend 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 which received Royal Assent on 03 March 2015 with the provisions for Scotland commencing on 03 May 2015.


What you can do

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.


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.

Downloadable FGM Resources



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




Guidance Information and training materials

The Womens 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:



Guidance for Education: 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.


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.

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 - CMO/CNO Letter 2015.


Specialist Services - FGM



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

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) report - Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland - A Scottish Model of Intervention

Following on from publication the Scottish Government has established a Multi-Agency FGM Short Life Working Group (SLWG) which will produce a final report in 2015, making recommendations and which will inform a national action plan for a consistent multi-agency approach to be taken in Scotland towards the elimination of the practice of FGM.


Female Genital Mutilation National Action Plan - Scotland's National Action Plan to Tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2016-2020.

It represents a comprehensive and ambitious plan for addressing this complex and often hidden abuse. It builds on work that has been happening across Scotland, bringing together best practice alongside our national plan, and will help to ensure that we are taking the necessary steps to put our commitment to protecting girls and women from harm into practice.

Scotlands National Action Plan to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (published on 04 February 2016)


Useful Resources and Links

Scottish Government FGM Statement:







NHS Inform: http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/health-library/articles/f/female-genital-mutilation/introduction/


Education Scotland FGM Resource: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/f/fgm.asp


National Guidance for Child Protection: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2010/12/09134441/0


Womens Support Project: http://www.womenssupportproject.co.uk/content/news/210,1,451/FGMAwareSara039sStory.html


FGM Aware: http://www.fgmaware.org/


Royal College of Nursing resource for nursing and midwifery practice: http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/608914/RCNguidance_FGM_WEB.pdf


Police Scotland: http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/news/2015/february/international-day-of-zero-tolerance-for-female-genital-mutilation


NSPCC (including helpline number 0800 028 3550): http://www.nspcc.org.uk/fgm


[1]UK Government FGM Resource Pack: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-genital-mutilation-resource-pack/female-genital-mutilation-resource-pack


[2]FGM Training Resource: http://www.safeguardingchildrenea.co.uk/resources/female-genital-mutilation-recognising-preventing-fgm-free-online-training/

What people are doing around the world to tackle FGM

(these are examples only and not an exhaustive list)

V-Day - is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations

FGM in the News

BBC news April 2015 - Magazine Article

Support Organisations


Dignity Alert Research Forum (DARF): www.darf.org.uk/

Roshni: http://www.roshni.org.uk/

Shakti Womens Aid: http://shaktiedinburgh.co.uk/

Saheliya: http://www.saheliya.co.uk/

Hemat Gryffe: http://www.hematgryffe.org.uk/

Amina: http://www.mwrc.org.uk/

[1] Resources will contain references to policies and procedures in England Wales

[2] Resources will contain references to policies and procedures in England Wales