Section 3 Where we want to be and how we are going to get there
The Scottish Government is clear about the need to address the full range of complexities that surround FGM and the inequality that underlies it. In this National Action Plan we have identified our aims and priorities for achieving this. If we are to make a real change in this critical area, our National Action Plan needs to be coordinated and aligned with clear and unambiguous actions, with a robust performance framework including appropriate outcomes, indicators and targets. We have already described the work that is underway in Scotland. In this section, we explain how we intend to address the current gaps for example data collection, coordinated multi agency responses and any future legislation, addressing the needs of specific communities, students in higher education, the oil industry and international schools.
The National Action Plan is not about starting from scratch; it is about building upon ongoing activity already underway within the Scottish Government, local authorities, Police Scotland, statutory and specialist third sector organisations and agencies, and communities, and linking in with work at UK, European and international levels.
This plan is about working in partnership to ensure that what we do as we move forward is aligned with and contributes to agreed outcomes, objectives and ultimately our end goal of preventing and eradicating FGM.
This National Action Plan reflects the dual approach of prevention/protection and support/provision of services, and aligns with the Equally Safe priority areas. It recognises the importance of effective early intervention, as well as recognising that agencies, organisations, communities and individuals will have different characteristics and needs.
This National Action Plan provides an outcome-based framework for partner agencies and affected communities to assist them in the delivery of targeted and responsive interventions. Such collaborative actions to achieve the development and delivery of our outcomes and objectives will evolve in response to future developments, delivering meaningful change over the long term.
By focusing on these key areas our intention is to make the strongest possible start, building momentum early on, instilling confidence and enthusiasm in partners, and showing that we are serious about delivering real and lasting change for the women and girls of Scotland.
Building our capacity and capability
What we are doing to prevent and eradicate FGM is vitally important, however so too is how we do it. This National Action Plan has been informed by the wealth of knowledge and experience of our partners.
We need to ensure we have the correct tools for the job. There needs to be consistent and competent development of our workforce within both the voluntary and statutory sectors to ensure everyone knows how to respond to disclosures of FGM and spot the warning signs that an individual may be at risk of FGM and the interaction between generalist workers and specialist workers.
We must ensure that where good practice has been established, there is a willingness to share this with other agencies and organisations, building the capacity and capability nationwide to deal with this issue, through regular multi-agency meetings and publications.
To be able to tackle this issue at its heart, the family unit, educational tools for parents and family members from potentially affected communities have to be made available to support parents and educate them through raising awareness and engagement through networks, various agencies and schools to provide guidance and support when facing increased family and community pressures.
As the optimum time for families taking young girls abroad to have FGM performed on them coincides with the school summer holidays, both statutory and non-statutory agencies must make additional efforts to raise awareness and provide support to young girls who may be at risk of FGM and their families. This could be in the form of FGM letter from CMO/ CNO to health boards and GP practices, heightened vigilance of police at ports/airports and increased vigilance of teachers towards the end of school terms.
With increased international population movement including asylum seekers/refugees/migrants, it is vitally important that we take into consideration the barriers they may face, for instance language difficulties. It is therefore imperative that there is adequate capacity and capability in translation services to be able to provide awareness of the health and wellbeing impacts of FGM, as well as the awareness of the legislation in Scotland.
To be able to effect long-term attitudinal and behavioural change within potentially affected communities, it is vital that the capacity and capability of community leaders is strengthened. We must ensure that the religious and opinion leaders and activists of these communities, including men, have the support structure in place to be able to make a stand on this issue and work within their communities to enable dialogue, discussion and greater understanding about this unacceptable practice. It is important to engage young people in the debate so that they can influence and support their peers.
Capacity and capability of voluntary and third sector organisations needs to be built upon to work together in partnership with other statutory organisations to lead on community engagement and development.
It is important to influence, support and enable the willingness or ability of potentially affected communities to access appropriate and accurate information and support through various mediums including websites, social media and helplines, along with face-to-face interactions.
We need to ensure there is a robust legal framework in place to bring the people responsible for this abuse, and those who aid and abet them, to justice.
Taking account of successful initiatives in other countries that is applicable or appropriate to Scottish circumstances will provide a good base to develop our own initiatives.