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Holyrood committee is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure female genital mutilation (FGM) protection orders “are not something that is ‘done to’ a woman or community” by better engaging with those affected.
The Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill passed stage one today, after the Equalities and Human Rights Committee supported the general principles of the legislation, which aims to strengthen legal protection for women and girls at risk of FGM.
The bill would create a new court order that imposes requirements on a person to protect a woman or girl from FGM and prevent further harm if FGM had already occurred. Breaching a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO) would be a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment.
The Scottish Government introduced an FGM action plan in 2016, with the aim of eradicating FGM in Scotland. The bill was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville, on 29 May 2019. The lead committee has been taking evidence since September and has visited organisations who work with women, girls and communities affected by FGM.
Now, the committee says it is seeking “more information from the Scottish Government on how FGM will be consistently built into the relationships, sexual health and parenthood education as part of the curriculum”.
“The committee asks the Scottish Government how it will engage with and involve women and communities in the development of guidance and awareness around FGM protection orders, and how it will monitor and evaluate success,” the committee’s stage one report stated.
The committee spoke to a researcher who highlighted the views of 12 FGM-affected women living in Scotland and said other methods “like a leaflet signed by the Chief of Police” may be just as effective as the orders.