November 15, 2013
A BBC investigation has revealed concerns that young girls are being brought to Scotland to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) because the country is seen as a “soft touch”. Agencies claim that families from England and Europe have travelled to Scotland to have their daughters cut. They also said girls living in Glasgow and Edinburgh have undergone FGM in Scotland and the problem is increasing.
UK legislation to criminalise FGM was introduced in 1985 but since then there has not been a single prosecution. Scottish legislation in 2005 made it illegal to take girls abroad to conduct the practice. New Scottish government figures, seen by the BBC, revealed that between 1997 and 2011, 2,403 girls were born in Scotland to a mother from an FGM-practicing country.
The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests about FGM to each of Scotland’s 32 local councils and 14 health boards. The majority of health boards were unable to say how many cases they had encountered. Less than a third of the 32 councils had specific local guidelines on FGM and less than 10 cases had been referred to social work.
Anela Anwar, of Scottish charity Roshni, said: “Because Scotland has been lacking somewhat in a prosecutions, families are coming up from England and Wales into Scotland to have the practice carried out and that is certainly concerning if Scotland is now being viewed as a place that doesn’t take the issue of female genital mutilation seriously.”
Fatou Baldeh, of the Dignity Alert and Research Forum (DARF) in Edinburgh said: “The UK is behind and among the UK, Scotland is very poor in tackling FGM and supporting victims.”
She added: “Because it’s getting expensive to take a daughter back home and circumcise or mutilate them, women are putting together money and bringing over someone who can cut the girls and it’s cheaper.”
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) set up a national FGM helpline this year, and over the course of the first three months, there were 102 calls relating to girls at risk of FGM.