18th December marked the 40th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. On this day, the Scottish Parliament also unanimously voted to agree the general principles of the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill which now moves onto the second stage of the legislative process.

This bill has been the focus of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee over the course of the Autumn where we have heard evidence from women’s organisations, academics, human rights experts, midwives, educators, police and other professionals.

The most powerful evidence for the Committee has come from our engagement. Throughout the Summer, members of the committee visited organisations in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and met with survivors and front-line workers. We talked to them about the Bill and difference that protection orders might make to them. We also talked about how Scotland can better deal with FGM and prevent it from happening.

We know from our evidence that there is no one culture or community that practises FGM. It is found around the world and is always a fundamental violation of human rights. FGM contravenes articles in the European Convention on Human Rights relating to cruel, unhuman or degrading treatment. It also contravenes the Convention Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We urge the Scottish Government to ensure that this is truly person centred legislation and puts those women affected into the leading roles, not supporting actors.

The full debate is available to view here.