• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Young girls 'brought to Scotland for illegal mutilation'

Young girls are being brought to ­Scotland to have illegal female "circumcisions" because those involved believe there is less chance of being caught in this country.

Families from England and Europe have been travelling to Scotland to have their daughters undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), while girls living in Glasgow and Edinburgh have also had to endure the barbaric practice.

While health and child welfare ­officials fear thousands of young girls are at risk and insist the issue is a real problem, no-one has been prosecuted.

The UN estimates that FGM affects 130 million women in more than 35 different countries - including Somalia, Sudan and Indonesia.

Outlawed in the UK in 1985, it takes many forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls' genitals. The cutting is carried out for a number of reasons but in many cases girls are cut to improve their marriage prospects.

Specialist agencies say that in many families daughters are cut because it is a social norm.

The most extreme type of FGM is often fatal. Health implications include haemorrhage, infection, psychological trauma and high infant and maternal mortality rates.

Police say it is still a hidden crime here.

The revelations form part of Cutting Love, a BBC investigation that will be aired on BBC Radio Scotland this weekend.

Anela Anwar of Scottish charity Roshni said: "Because Scotland has been lacking somewhat in a prosecution, 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."

The 2011 census shows the number of people in Scotland from some countries that practise FGM has more than doubled in the past decade.

Agencies say many people do not realise it is illegal in the UK. Specialists say families from Birmingham, London, Manchester and France have come to Scotland to have their daughters cut here.

They say there are "cutters" in the community and, in some cases, families pool funds to fly over someone from Africa or the Middle East to allow several girls to be mutilated at the same time at a "cutting party".

Ms Anwar added: "We've heard of people travelling to Birmingham and even families coming up from Birmingham, Manchester, London. We've also heard stories of people coming from France to the UK and Scotland in particular, to have the practice carried out."

The Dignity Alert and Research Forum (DARF) in Edinburgh estimates that, in 2009, there were 3000 women living in Scotland who had been cut. Since then they say the figures have increased.

Fatou Baldeh of DARF said: "Other European countries bring their children to the UK.

"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, what women are doing is they will put together money and bring over someone who can cut the girls."

Police Scotland has identified almost 3000 school pupils across Scotland from countries where FGM is prevalent. They are talking to education directors to look at how to raise teachers' awareness of the issue. In Glasgow they plan to target more than 1600 children who may be at risk.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Imery of Police Scotland said every daughter born here to a woman who has undergone FGM should be considered a child protection case.

"It most definitely is a form of child abuse and would be investigated as such," she said.

However, she revealed the force had

not received a single referral from health. Police Scotland has dealt with fewer than 10 cases since April this year.

DCS Imery added: "We've dealt with six investigations or incidents in relation to FGM that have resulted in a form of intervention which we hope has prevented children undergoing this procedure, but none of the reports has resulted in an investigation of a crime, or a report to the procurator-fiscal.

"We're doing a huge amount to raise awareness within our own staff, looking at unexplained absences from school and working with our partners in education to intervene. Health also has a significant role, and it's perhaps through ante-natal care, midwifery that we will actually have tangible evidence of FGM, and that certainly hasn't been reported to us."

Sarah McCulloch, director of specialist agency ACCMUK, said: "What we need is a change in approach - the legislation is there. In the UK, I think the government, the police, the social services are too politically correct to want to do anything."

Scottish Equalities Minister Shona Robison said: "Anyone aware of FGM taking place has a legal and moral duty to report it. The police have assured us that they investigate all reported incidents and there is strong legislation in place to prosecute in cases of FGM.

"Anyone aiding or carrying out FGM, either here or abroad, faces up to 14 years imprisonment. Between 2012 and 2015, £34.5 million has been allocated to tackle violence against women, including FGM. Monitoring a sensitive issue like FGM is difficult. The Government will continue to tackle this abuse of human rights."

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

194096