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Policy actions 4 of 5

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'.

FGM: a violation of human rights

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
  • be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • life (when the procedure results in death)

FGM has no health benefits. It harms girls and women because it interferes with the natural functions of their bodies.

The law on FGM

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.

FGM Action Plan

We produced Scotland's National FGM Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate FGM in partnership with Police Scotland, the NHS, councils and third sector organisations.

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

FGM resources and guidance