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Equalities and Human Rights Committee seeks views on plans to strengthen protection against female genital mutilation

Equalities and Human Rights Committee seeks views on plans to strengthen protection against female genital mutilation

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie and FGM survivor Neneh Bojang - Image credit: Scottish Government

A Holyrood committee is seeking views on Scottish Government plans to increase protection for women and girls in Scotland who are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM).

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee will be taking evidence from

from communities and individuals affected by FGM, as well as from those working in related areas.

The Scottish Government introduced an FGM action plan in 2016, with the aim of eradicating FGM in Scotland.

Last month it published a new FGM bill that would include creating FGM protection orders to safeguard women and children who might be pressured to undergo FGM.

The Scottish Government estimates that between four and nine applications for orders would be made each year in Scotland.

These orders can keep an FGM victim safe by, for example, ordering that the person who may be at risk is taken to a safe place.

The Female Genital Mutilation Bill would also see new statutory guidance issued to professionals and agencies working in this area to ensure a more consistent multi-agency approach.

Speaking as the Scottish Government launched the bill Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply abhorrent practice and a fundamental violation of the human rights of women and girls.

“It is a physical manifestation of deep-rooted gender inequality.

“FGM is already illegal. This bill will provide for increased protection with the introduction of protection orders and putting guidance on a statutory footing to improve the response of services.

FGM has been a crime in the UK since 1985, but UK-wide legislation was replaced in Scotland by the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act in 2005.

All local authority areas have communities potentially affected by FGM, though most women and children who have been affected are thought to live in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen.

Speaking as the call for views was launched, Equalities and Human Rights Committee convener Ruth Maguire said: “Female genital mutilation violates the fundamental human rights and basic dignity of women and girls.

“The committee is unequivocal in its support for protecting women and girls at risk of FGM.

“Both to prevent it from happening, and in our desire to help those who have been subjected to it.

“We will be looking closely at how protection orders and other proposals will ensure these aims are met.

“To help us in this work, we want to hear a range of views and evidence.” 

The call for views is open until 30 August and responses can be given on the Scottish Parliament website.

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