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Tackling Female Genital Mutilation

Published: 4 Feb 2016 09:30

Action to protect girls and women.

A new Scottish Government action plan will ensure healthcare workers, teachers and other professionals are better equipped to spot the signs of girls and women at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The National Action Plan, launched in Glasgow today, ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Saturday, has at its heart a determination to consign FGM to history.

The plan aims to do this through prevention, protection, and by providing services and support. FGM is an abuse of the human rights of women and girls and is a form of gender based violence, and the actions outlined in the report are intended to put a stop to this crime.

Setting out objectives and responsibilities required to eradicate FGM in Scotland, it will build on the range of work that is already taking place across the country to tackle all forms of gender-based abuse.

Specific actions include:

  • For those who experience the trauma of FGM to have access to informed mental health services
  • All agencies to review violence against women and girls strategies, and for those strategies to explicitly include actions to prevent the practice of FGM and provide services to those affected by FGM
  • All social work offices, NHS boards and other agencies to have at least one professional with expertise on FGM
  • Healthcare workers, teachers and other professionals to be given information and support to help spot the signs of FGM

The plan been informed by research, experience of other countries, engagement with partners in all sectors and the experiences of communities, service providers and those who have been or are at risk.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announced details of the plan while visiting Glasgow Rape Crisis, which, alongside the Scottish Government, runs the FGM partnership programme – a collaborative of organisations which aim to engage communities affected by FGM.

Mr Neil said:

"FGM is an unacceptable and illegal practice, a form of violence against women and a violation of human rights. It has absolutely no place in Scotland, or anywhere else.

"We are committed to working together to do everything possible to tackle this issue, but recognise there is no easy solution to achieve this.

"That's why I'm pleased today to announce measures in this action plan that are aimed at identifying and taking action against perpetrators, as well as changing attitudes and behaviours to keep women and children safe and well."

Isabelle Kerr, manager at Rape Crisis Glasgow, said:

"This support from the Scottish Government has meant we have been able to focus part of our work on survivors who have experienced female genital cutting, not only by offering face to face support but also with groupwork.

"This is giving women the chance to come together and support each other, and has also given us the chance to work with the women on building confidence and self-esteem, on their health and wellbeing, and on managing the symptoms of their trauma. The partnership has been invaluable to us."

Notes to editors

The Rape Crisis Glasgow FGM Partnership Project is funded by the Scottish Government, and works with a range of partners including Scottish Refugee Council, DARF and Women's Support.

A Parliamentary reception was held on Tuesday to help raise awareness of the issue.