Minority ethnic women and girls

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Female Genital Mutilation (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'.

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 made it a criminal offence to have female genital mutilation carried out in Scotland or abroad, and increased the maximum penalty from five to 14 years imprisonment.

Our approach to tackling FGM is aligned with the priorities in Equally Safe: Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. It recognises the need to:

  • prioritise protection from, and prevention of, FGM
  • provide services and appropriate support for those who have experienced FGM
  • hold perpetrators to account

Forced marriage

If one or both parties do not, or cannot, consent to a marriage it is a forced marriage.

This is different from arranged marriage where both parties give their full and free consent.

We believe everyone in Scotland who can marry, or enter into a civil partnership, has the right to do so freely and without physical or emotional pressure.


The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in November 2011.

It introduced Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO) to protect people from being forced to marry, or who are already in a forced marriage.

To extend protection to those at risk, forcing someone into marriage was made a criminal offence in Scotland in September 2014.

Statutory guidance

Statutory guidance describes the responsibilities of chief executives, directors and senior managers in agencies that handle cases of forced marriage.

It covers: roles and responsibilities, accountability, training, interagency working, information sharing, risk assessment and record keeping.

Link to guidance:

Practitioner guidance

Muti-Agency Guidance is for frontline staff and volunteers in agencies and organisations who are likely to come across adults, children and young people threatened with, or in, a forced marriage.

We published guidance to help legal professionals to work with victims of forced marriage sensitively and effectively, and also with other agencies involved with the victim.

We produced leaflets and posters, in English and community languages, to raise awareness of the criminalisation of forced marriage.

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