Women and girls at risk from the illegal and harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) will be better protected under new legislation.
A bill passed today will allow courts to issue Protection Orders, specifically designed to safeguard those who find themselves under pressure to undergo FGM.
Under the new legislation, anyone will be able to apply for a Protection Order if they have concerns that someone is at risk, including the person themselves, a local authority, Police Scotland, the Lord Advocate or another party with the permission of the court.
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 provide victims of FGM and those at risk of the practice with a more consistent and holistic response from public services.
Welcoming the unanimous backing for the Bill, Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said:
“Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 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.
“Introducing Protection Orders will safeguard women and children at risk. We will continue to work with our partners across the public and third sectors and affected communities to effectively tackle and eventually eradicate this unacceptable practice from our society.”
Anne Spiers, Acting Chief Executive Officer at Edinburgh charity The Multi-Cultural Family Base, said:
“Through our Bright Choices service we offer free and confidential support to women and children who are survivors of FGM. The new Protection Orders, when combined with guidance, awareness and tangible front line support, will be a vital tool to help us tackle and eradicate this unacceptable and inhumane practice from our society.”
Female Genital Mutilation 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 The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act.
FGM is 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.
The introduction of this legislation builds on the commitment made within the Scottish Government’s National Action Plan to prevent and eradicate FGM and to strengthen the law in this area.