Nicola Sturgeon promises to help FGM victims

NICOLA Sturgeon has promised to intensify the Scottish Government’s efforts to combat female genital mutilation (FGM), as she announced new funding aimed at ending the “violation of the human rights of women and girls”.

Nicola Sturgeon announced funding of £220,000. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Sturgeon announced funding of £220,000. Picture: John Devlin

The First Minister pledged almost a quarter of a million pounds to tackle the crime, speaking at an anti-domestic violence summit in Glasgow, where she promised to step-up action to halt the “unacceptable and illegal practice”.

Ms Sturgeon said the £220,000 would be used to pay for development projects and raise awareness of the danger of FGM, as well as offering support services for victims of the crime.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The First Minister said the funding package was part of increased moves to “protect those at risk” of abuse, with a national action plan aimed at making Scotland a place safe from FGM due to be launched later this year.

Police Scotland previously said it investigated 14 possible cases of FGM involving 16 girls in the year up to summer 2015. A survivor of the abuse stated that the practice remained “secretive” among communities carrying it out.

Ms Sturgeon visited Roshni, an organisation that addresses issues affecting ethnic minority communities in Scotland, such as FGM, as well as a signing a declaration to tackle FGM at an anti-domestic violence summit at Glasgow City Chambers yesterday.

She said the government wanted to see individuals responsible for the abuse face prosecution and conviction for the offence, which can lead to up to 14 year jail terms.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Female genital mutilation is an unacceptable and illegal practice. It is a form of violence against women and a violation of the human rights of women and girls. It has no place in the Scotland we all want to live in.

“Today, I have been able to meet some of the organisations involved to find out about the work they do to help those at risk from this awful practice. I’m pleased that this new funding will help to provide people from communities affected by FGM with a platform to have their voices heard on ending this practice in Scotland.

“I am determined that those who commit FGM abuse will be held to account, and we will work with all our partners and with communities to ensure that we can protect those at risk.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to say that a government-backed working group would set out a national plan, with proposals aimed at eradicating FGM, which has been illegal in Scotland since 1985.

She added: “Raising awareness and promoting understanding is vital in addressing the complex issues of FGM. There is excellent work being done across Scotland to raise awareness and promote understanding of the complex issues of FGM.

“We have also set up a multi-agency FGM short life working group which will produce a final report later this year, making recommendations to inform a national action plan for a consistent multi-agency approach to be taken in Scotland towards the elimination of the practice of FGM.