Target 5.3
Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

Indicator 5.3.1
Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in a union before age 18 (i.e. child marriage)

Why is this indicator necessary within the UK context?
In 2015, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support relating to a possible forced marriage in 1,220 cases. The FMU also received approximately 350 calls per month in total. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU through the public helpline or by email in relation to a new case. Of the cases that FMU provided support to:

∙ 329 (27%) involved victims below 18 years of age; and

∙ 427 (35%) involved victims aged 18-25.

Forced Marriage Unit Statistics 2015 Report (2016):
Although the FMU statistics show a decrease in the amount of forced marriage cases they reported from 2014 (a 3% decrease) and a bigger decrease from 2012, the data may not be reflective of the issue on the ground because:

  • There may be higher cases reported to other UK non-government organisations (e.g. domestic abuse organisations).
  • Most cases may be reported after a long period of time and many may be victims of child marriage, although this is not distinguished in the data.
  • The large portion of cases (35%) being 18-25 in 2015 may fall into the child marriage category.



Indicator 5.3.2
Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone FGM/C, by age group (for relevant countries only)
Our complementary indicator: Disaggregate data into 15-24 year olds, and collect data on under 15s

Why is this indicator important within the UK context?
Committing FGM/C is illegal in the UK, as well as taking a child abroad to commit FGM/C. Despite this, FGM/C is widely regarded as a ‘hidden crime’ and so is highly prevalent in the UK.

  • An estimated 103,000 women aged 15-49 with FGM, born in countries in which it is practiced, were living in England and Wales in 2011, compared with the estimated 66,000 in 2001.
  • In addition, there were an estimated 24,000 women aged 50 and over in the UK, who have undergone FGM and were born in FGM practising countries.
  • In the UK, nearly 10,000 girls aged 0-14 years were born in FGM practising countries who have undergone or are likely to undergo FGM.
  • Combining the figures for the three age groups, in 2011 there were an estimated 137,000 women and girls with FGM, born in countries where FGM is practised, and permanently reside in England and Wales.

(Macfarlane and Dorkenoo for City University London and Equality Now, 2014)

2014 report, compiled by City University London and Equality Now, based on 2011 census data and ONS’ birth statistics concluded that there were 170,000 women aged 15 and over in England and Wales with FGM and that 63,000 girls aged 0-13 were at risk of FGM. This report shows that the estimated numbers of women with FGM have increased since 2001, especially due to migration from countries in conflict. A substantial proportion of the increase which is among women from countries where FGM is nearly universal or prevalence is high. Although women with FGM tend to be concentrated in inner city areas and major cities, they are also widely dispersed and it is likely that some women with FGM are living in every local authority area. This has implications for service planning. While dedicated services may be needed in areas with large numbers of women with FGM, services in all areas should be aware of their needs and have strategies to meet them (Macfarlane and Dorkenoo for City University London and Equality Now, 2014).

Why collect data on victims of FGM that are 15 years old and under?
Where the indicator measures FGM victims aged 15-49, we believe it is necessary to focus on young people as they are particularly at risk of FGM/C. We have decided that, in order to accurately monitor the progress of Indicator 5.3.2 in the UK, data collected on those that have undergone FGM/C must be disaggregated into 15-24 year olds, and must also be collected on people under the age of 15. The NSPCC (2007) states that “23,000 girls under 15 could be at risk of FGM in England and Wales”, a statistic which is likely to have increased since. Furthermore, the NHS (2015) states that FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, particularly before puberty starts. FORWARD (2015) notes that “to better tackle FGM we need more than guestimates, we need more data on those at risk as to better target prevention programmes at these groups”, and we agree that it is crucial we collect data on under 15s when the risk is highest. Indeed, it is necessary for early interventions (in primary and secondary school) to be put in place in those areas where the prevalence rate for under 15s is high. Early intervention can make sure those at risk are given full support and families can also be educated early about the violence, which could reduce the risk to younger siblings.