Eradicating female genital mutilation - national action plan 2016-2020: equality impact assessment

Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) record for Scotland's national action plan to prevent and eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2016 to 2020.

Stage 2: Data and evidence gathering, involvement and consultation

Characteristic [1]

Evidence gathered and Strength/quality of evidence


Data gaps identified and action taken


23,979 men, women and children born in one of the 29 countries identified by UNICEF (2013) as an ' FGM-practising country' were living in Scotland in 2011, with 363 girls born in Scotland to mothers born in an FGM-practising country in 2012.

In June 2012 there were 1,038,464 children (under 18 years old) in Scotland. Of this, 518,655 children were aged 0-8 years. This is the main 'target group' for perpetrators of FGM. However, this figure does not differentiate between girls and boys. We do not know many were born in FGM practising countries.

Research carried out by UNICEF shows that FGM can be carried out on girls of any age but is most commonly carried out between the ages of 5 - 14 years old. There are approx. 909,092 children under the age of 16 in Scotland in 2014. Again this figure includes boys and girls.

Scotland's population 2011 & SRC Report: Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland; A Scottish model of Intervention [2]

National Records of Scotland. (August 2015) Scotland's Population, Annual review of demographic trends, 2014.

Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM) 2016 – 2020 [3]

Data availability around age is strong.


In 2011, the proportion of people in Scotland with a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability was 20 per cent (1,040,000 people), the same proportion as reported in 2001 (1,027,872 people).

In 2012, 28 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women in Scotland reported a limiting long-term condition or disability; however there are no direct links between FGM and disability.

That is to say, there may be conditions and health implications as a result of undergoing FGM that are not reported as being consequential and no causal link is reported. It should however be recognised that in FGM practising communities disabled women and girls would be at the same risk of the practice as non-disabled women and girls.

2011 Scotland Census

Scottish Health Survey

Data availability around disability is strong.


In 2011, 52% of Scotland's population were female and 48% were male. This proportion has not changed much since 1947.
By its very nature FGM is a form of extreme gender based violence that affects women and girls because they are female. The National Action Plan is rooted in the understanding that FGM affects women and girls exclusively. However the objectives, actions and activities within the plan recognise that to address FGM effectively there is a need to engage with both women and men to ensure that there is confidence to report and to develop capacity to challenge it. Capacity building is being progressed through Scottish Government funded work such as the 'My Voice' project and the continuing development of relationships with community organisations such as Community Info Source. Both organisations are working with men in educating and raising awareness of the consequences and health implications of FGM.
We are aware of an argument by some trans activists that the term Female Genital Mutilation is oppressive to them because it denies their identity of being woman and excludes them from being female.
FGM is performed on some ME girls because they are identified as girls by virtue of their biology. This social reality results in inferior treatment compared to males. Even if these girls later identify as transgender men, it will have no bearing on their subjugation from patriarchal forces that require females to be cut in order to be valued as "pure" within society. It is precisely because they are identified as girls that they experience the oppression of FGM.

Scotland's population 2011

Data availability around sex is strong.

Pregnancy and Maternity

There were 363 girls born in Scotland to mothers who were born in FGM practicing countries in 2012. This represents a fivefold increase over the last 10 years.

There are various issues surrounding recording data on pregnancy and FGM. The National Action Plan has outcomes with activities aimed at addressing this.

Healthcare professionals have been asked to record the diagnosis and types of FGM, together with any corrective procedures in the appropriate clinical records, including the hospital discharge summary. The condition is then able to be coded and relevant codes for hospitals and primary care have been provided to encourage national consistency. This should assist in collecting baseline information regarding some of the aspects of FGM, starting with the healthcare services.

SRC Report: Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland; A Scottish model of Intervention

Data availability around pregnancy and maternity is limited.

Gender Reassignment

The Registrar General for Scotland maintains a Gender Recognition Register in which the birth of a transsexual person whose acquired gender has been legally recognised is registered showing any new name(s) and the acquired gender. This enables the transsexual person to apply to the Registrar General for Scotland for a new birth certificate showing the new name(s) and the acquired gender. In 2014, there were 16 entries in the Gender Recognition Register, the same number as in 2013. The Gender Recognition Register is not open to public scrutiny.

There is no data relating FGM to Gender Reassignment.

No additional action is considered necessary to obtain direct evidence as it does not directly or indirectly impact upon the policy.

Sexual Orientation

Statistics published in the Integrated Household Survey shows that the number of people who self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual in Scotland was 1.4%. A comparison by gender showed that 93.6% of men and 94.3% of women identified themselves as heterosexual/straight. The out gay population in Europe is estimated to be around 22.6 million (2.6% of the population).
Those who practice FGM justify it with references to various socio-cultural factors.
Other common justifications for FGM are closely related to fixed gender roles and perceptions of women and girls as gatekeepers of their family's honour, which in many cases is closely linked to strict expectations regarding women's sexual "purity" and lack of desire. In some societies, the prevailing myth is that girls' sexual desires must be controlled early to preserve their virginity and prevent immorality. In other communities, FGM is seen as necessary to ensure marital fidelity and to prevent "deviant" sexual behavior.
Regardless of sexual orientation FGM is violation and abuse.

Integrated Household Survey April 2010 to March 2011: Experimental Statistics

There is no data or published research relating FGM to Sexual Orientation.

No additional action is considered necessary to obtain direct evidence as it does not directly or indirectly impact upon the policy.


Although there does seem to be a larger proportion of known cases coming from predominately West African countries, FGM is not fixed on any particular race. The size of the visible minority ethnic population in 2011 was just over 200,000 or 4 per cent of the total population of Scotland (based on the 2011 ethnicity classification); this has doubled since 2001 when just over 100,000 or 2 per cent of the total population of Scotland (based on the 2001 ethnicity classification) were from a minority ethnic group.

Scotland's population 2011

See Annex A

Religion or Belief

Some people practice FGM as part of their religion and there can be huge pressures to make girls have it done. However FGM is not recommended by any religion or in any religious texts. It is not religious but might have become symbolic in some communities as a demonstration of faith. In fact it is not a condition of belonging to any faith group.
Representatives from organisations including the International Relief Foundation, FORWARD and the Muslim Women's Network UK met government ministers during a summit at the Home Office in London on 19 June 2014. By signing a joint declaration against the practice of FGM, they hope to send a clear message to communities across the UK that the practice is an extreme form of violence against women and girls and is not supported by any religious doctrine.
After Christianity, Islam was the most common faith with 42,600 people in Scotland describing their faith as Muslim. No particular barriers to the engagement of majority faith communities, however religious leaders are more difficult to engage with.
The need to engage with religious leaders has been highlighted by community organisations. Work to engage with religious leaders is being taken forward with community based organisations, funded by the Scottish Government, in this area.

Scotland's population 2011

Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate FGM.

Evidence around faith is limited. However available evidence shows that engagement with faith leaders is valuable in communicating the message that FGM is a harmful procedure.


Email: Bruce Sutherland,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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