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Scotland: new FGM Bill published

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Scottish government, new law, enhance protection, women and girls, at risk, Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, taking evidence“Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply abhorrent practice”

The Scottish government published its ‘Female Genital Mutilation Bill’ last month, aimed at enhancing protection for women and girls who are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM), a procedure which involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, has been a specific criminal offence in the UK since the passage of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985.

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act.

The introduction of this new legislation builds on the commitment made in the Scottish government’s National Action Plan to prevent and eradicate FGM and to strengthen the law in this area.

The proposals include: anonymity for victims; new FGM Protection Orders; more protection through civil courts; and statutory guidance on FGM.

The legislation would introduce Protection Orders specifically designed to safeguard women and children who might find themselves under pressure to undergo FGM.

The idea is that a person at risk or a victim, a local authority, Police Scotland, the Lord Advocate or any other person with the permission of the court, will be able to make an application for a Protection Order.

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

These orders aim 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 (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill will also see statutory guidance issued for professionals and agencies working in this area.

This will help to ensure a more consistent and holistic multi-agency response across services to victims of FGM and those at risk of the practice.

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 survivor Neneh Bojang, from Edinburgh, said: “I was just nine years old when I was subjected to FGM.

“It was excruciating and has caused me pain throughout my life.

“If this Bill prevents even just one woman from going through the same, then in my eyes, it will be a success.”

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee will taking evidence from communities and individuals affected by FGM, as well as from those working in related areas, until 30 August, and responses can be given on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

For information about responding, click here.

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