Call for national plan to address female genital mutilation
The first major piece of research on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Scotland has identified an urgent need for a strategic, multi-agency approach to support and protect the communities affected by the practice.
The Scottish Refugee Council’s (SRC) report, which addresses a lack of Scottish-specific data on the issue and identifies potentially affected populations, will also call for the establishment of a specialist, multidisciplinary ‘hub and spoke’ FGM service in Scotland when it is published later this month.
“In order to effectively tackle FGM, Scotland needs a strong strategic framework, which incorporates policy, legislation and engagement with professionals and communities. This should encompass prevention, protection and prosecution, and be outlined in a standalone national action plan. Any action plan must be informed by communities affected by FGM and should be cross-departmental and developed in partnership with all key stakeholders,” said Nina Murray, report co-author and Women’s Policy Officer at the SRC.
Additionally, the report recommends developing a network of named professionals with expertise on FGM in every local authority area, for all women and girls living in Scotland to be covered by legislation on FGM irrespective of immigration status, and for key community figures to be supported to become advocates for sustainable and long-term behaviour change.
“Any work to tackle or understand FGM must recognise that it is a form of gender-based violence, and that it is closely linked to other forms of violence against women and girls, most notably, forced marriage. A gendered approach to tackling and responding to FGM will support affected communities to identify and address the root causes of the practice.”
The study also sought to learn from other countries to develop a Scottish model of intervention.
“Some places have had this issue on the radar for much longer because of the nature of migration to those areas. It is quite a new issue for Scotland given the demographic make-up of Scotland and patterns of migration. So I think the main purpose of this report was to try and draw learning from some of those countries where they have had more experience on this issue and developed more interventions around it,” said Murray.