Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM) is an unacceptable and illegal practice; it reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. This practice is an extreme manifestation of the imbalance of power that for too many women and girls is their everyday life experience.
We have already taken forward a range of work to tackle FGM. We want to ensure that what we do protects those at risk from harm and delivers services to those who have been affected by the practice. We want to make sure that what we do is informed by cooperation and a collective will to bring about change. That is why the Scottish Government, has worked so closely with our partners to develop and publish Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM).
This plan, which was published on 04 February 2016 and runs until 2020, sets out an agreed range of actions and associated activities to be taken forward by the Scottish Government and its partners in communities, the third sector and public sector to prevent and ultimately eradicate FGM. Whilst publication of the plan represented the culmination of a significant piece of work it was by no means the endpoint in our journey to tackle FGM.
With that in mind the actions and objectives set out in the National Action Plan are being taken forward under the guidance of a Multi-Agency FGM National Action Plan Implementation Group. By monitoring progress on an ongoing basis we are able to give a sharp focus to the practical approach we can take to realise our ambitions in this area and to make sure that this work aligns with wider work to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls being progressed through Equally Safe.
Our collaborative approach places communities and individuals affected by FGM at the heart of work to tackle it. It has been informed by listening to those people who are best placed to bring about the significant, cultural and attitudinal changes required and who are often best placed to advise on the most effective interventions. It is only by coming together and by listening to people's needs that we can be confident that what we are doing is effective in both keeping people safe and in holding perpetrators to account for their actions.
We recognise that there are no quick fixes to tackling FGM; it is a complex and hidden issue, and there is no single solution to ending it. However since publication, along with our partners, we have been able to make progress against all of the themes of the plan. This progress has been described in more detail in the narrative and tables that form this update report.
This report provides an insight into our initial work to deliver on the actions and objectives of our plan. I am committed to ensuring that as we go forward together, all we do helps to hasten the day that FGM is consigned to history.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities Social Security and Equalities