What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) happens any time the external female genitalia (including the labia and clitoris) are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done.
The Scottish Government's formal statement opposing FGM explains that FGM is:
- illegal in Scotland and the UK
- usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15
- a form of violence against women and girls
- never needed for medical reasons
- not approved by any religion
FGM is also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms such as khatna, sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.
FGM interferes with the natural functions of a woman or girl's body and can seriously harm their health. It can cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health. FGM is against a person's rights to:
- health, security and physical integrity
- freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
- life (when the procedure results in death)
The law on FGM
Anyone found guilty of carrying out FGM – or helping it to take place – faces up to 14 years in prison, a fine or both. A UK national or permanent UK resident is guilty of a crime if they carry out FGM outside of Scotland or help arrange for it to be done.
FGM has been illegal in Scotland since 1985. The Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 brought back into effect the legal powers of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. It also extended women's legal protection by making it a criminal offence to have FGM carried out either in Scotland or outside the country. FGM is also illegal throughout the UK.