Council supports call for zero tolerance on female genital mutilation

Purple and yellow pansies

Published: Thursday, 15th February 2018

Our Safer Communities team has supported the call for zero tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), one of the key messages of this year’s international awareness raising campaign.

FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is also known by different names including cutting, female circumcision and initiation. It is sometimes referred to as sunna, although FGM predates Christianity and Islam and is not approved by any religion. It may also be referred to as Tahoor, Khitan, Gudnii, Absum, Ibi, Bondo, Halalays, Sunna or Kutaria.

The motivations for FGM vary between different ethnic groups, as does the age at which it is carried out ranging from just after birth to just before marriage or before the birth of the first child.

Councillor Watson McAteer, Police, Fire & Rescue & Safer Communities Board Chair

“It is vital that we work together to raise awareness of FGM and do all we can to protect girls and young women from this completely unacceptable form of violent behaviour.”

A partnership approach to raising awareness

Work is being currently being carried out to develop a local joint protocol that will help to identify and respond to disclosures of FGM by:

  • the Safer Communities team
  • the Public Protection Unit
  • NHS Borders
  • Scottish Borders Rape Crisis

The Scottish Borders Violence Against Women Partnership also has a responsibility within the Equally Safe Strategy, published in 2017, to ensure FGM is recognised as a form of gender based violence.

At a national level, the Scottish Government is in the process of developing multi-agency FGM guidance for all partner agencies across Scotland which will be adopted in the Borders as soon as it is available.

Councillor Watson McAteer, Police, Fire & Rescue & Safer Communities Board Chair

“The work that is being done at both a local and national level will make sure that the correct strategies and supports are in place to help professionals respond to any reports of FGM that they receive or are aware of.

“While there were no reported cases in the Borders between 2013 and 2018, we still need people at a local level to be vigilant to any signs that FGM may be taking place in their community. If anyone has concerns, and feel it is an emergency, we would urge them to dial 999 and ask for the Police. Otherwise, they should call 101 and ask for the Divisional Public Protection Unit who will be able to provide specialist advice and information.

“We would also like to reach out to anyone has experienced FGM, or is concerned that this might affect them, and reassure them that help is available. They can also phone the Police or if they prefer, speak in confidence to their GP or other professional who they feel comfortable talking to.”

More information

Information about FGM is available on the FGM Aware website

Support for women and children experiencing abuse is available from:

  • 0300 100 1800 option 4 (for adults)
  • 01896 662762 (for children)
  • Online