Female genital mutilation ‘rising in soft-touch Scotland’

By Lucy Adams for BBC News

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.

The equalities minister said anyone who was aware of FGM had a duty report it.

Shona Robison said people who had aided or carried out the procedure, either in Scotland or abroad, faced up to 14 years imprisonment.

FGM takes different forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls’ genitals for non-medical reasons.

The cutting is carried out for a number of reasons but in many areas girls are cut to improve their marriage prospects.

The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East.

It has long been associated with countries such as Mali, Somalia and Sudan and some parts of the Middle East.

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  • Female genital mutilation (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.
  • About 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating. It can later lead to cysts, infections and infertility, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East
  • According to the World Health Organisation, more than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, a trend which is increasing

It is estimated about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

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.

Det Ch Supt Gill Imery of Police Scotland said every daughter born in Scotland to a woman who had 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.

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.

However Det Ch Supt Imery revealed that police had not received a single referral from the health authorities.

Raising awareness

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.

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Categories: Africa

5 replies

  1. I was shocked to see in a recent BBC TV program that this FGM is also practiced extensively in Iraqi Kurdistan. Absolutely stupid this practice. (and, just to repeat again for the TMT readers: with absolutely no basis in Islamic law)

  2. I recently read some world wide statistics on it in Huffington Post. As shocking as the practice itself is, it is even more tragic to see that Muslims in these countries are doing it as a religious practice.

    I was wondering if our Jamaat could take steps in heavy publicity in these areas informing them this is not Islamic. Our Jamaat’s verdict may not make a difference for them, but politicians or Human Rights activists could be persuaded to get Fatwas from Saudi Arabia or so many other places whose authority they recognize that this is not Islamic. Adding to these Fatwas the facts that this practice in reality hampers fertility and childbirth, people may be persuaded to let go of this practice.

    Allowing this practice to continue also adds fuel to the anti-circumcision campaigns in the west.

  3. Sister Qudsia, this practice among the Bohras is encouraged by their spiritual leadership and emphasized on a regular basis at general community functions.

    Also, since it is very close-knit the drs. and nurses amongst them are the ones who do it and hence does not get any adverse publicity.

    It is also very difficult to ‘catch’ them!

  4. I came across a very informative article on why some Muslims practice this as religious. The points I thought were noteworthy in this connection are:

    1. It was a pre-Islamic practice in Egypt which may have been based on confusion arising from Ibrahamic tradition of male circumcision, and some people brought the practice to Arabia primarily to circumcise slave women to reduce their natural desires, but it was still not commonly practiced there.

    2. There is no hadith where the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said girls should be circumcised. Since it never became a practice among the Companions, it is proof enough that there was never a commandment for it, or even a hint of encouragement for it otherwise Muslims in that area would surely have adopted it.

    3. Some Muslims practice it because in some hadith of Abu Dawud which he declared ‘substandard’ and weak in authenticity, some ladies who used to conduct this practice before Islam mentioned this to the Prophet (pbuh)and were not told to stop the practice….but even in those weak and authentically substandard hadith the Holy Prophet disliked the motive of that (i.e. to reduce women’s natural desire), in fact he said not to operate in a way that would take away that function.

    The few ahadith that are used to justify this are in collection revered by Shia community, and so this is probably why the Bohra community practices it. But the article goes through each of these narrations, describing how unreliable and most likely false they are…and even with that unreliability they don’t show anywhere that Islam requires this practice.

    Here’s the detailed article: http://www.alislam.org/library/articles/Female-circumcision-and-its-standing-in-Islamic-law.pdf

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