Responding to female genital mutilation: multi-agency guidance

A framework for agencies and practitioners to develop and agree processes that promote the safety and wellbeing of women and girls.

Appendix 1: The law – International, EU, England and Wales

International and EU Law

FGM violates a number of fundamental rights protected under international law, such as the right to physical and mental integrity; freedom from violence; the highest attainable standard of health; freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex; freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; and life, when the procedure results in death. These rights are protected in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( ICESCR), Convention Against Torture ( CAT), Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) Convention on the Rights of the Child ( CRC), as well as regional human rights instruments including the European Convention of Human Rights. FGM constitutes a form of gender-related persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention that can be related to the grounds of political opinion, membership of a particular social group or religious beliefs. FGM is mentioned as an example of persecution based on membership of a particular social group in the EU Qualification Directive

In April 2017 the UK ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention), which includes FGM.

A useful overview of international law on FGM, and the number of treaties to which it runs contrary, is on the following UN sites:

Legislation in England and Wales

The Serious Crime Act 2015 [36] contains six FGM-related legislative provisions for England and Wales as set out below. NB Only the first provision applies to Scotland:

1. Part 5 Section 70 - Offence of female genital mutilation: extra-territorial acts. The Scottish Government collaborated with the Westminster Government to close a loophole in the law in the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 (by means of an LCM) to extend the reach of the extra-territorial offences in that Act to habitual (as well as permanent) UK residents. This provision commenced in Scotland on 03 May 2015

2. Lifelong Anonymity of Victims: Part 5 Section 71 4a

3. Failing to Protect a Girl at Risk of FGM: Part 5 Section 72 3a

4. FGM Protection Orders: Part 5 Section 73 5a

5. Mandatory Reporting of FGM: Part 5 Section 74 5b

6. Placing multi-agency guidance onto a statutory footing: Part 5 Section 75 5c


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