New legislation passed by Holyrood takes Scotland a step closer to the goal of eradicating the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), MSPs were told.
The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill on Thursday.
Equalities minister Christina McKelvie said measures should provide an “effective and proven approach to reducing risk to potential victims”.
While FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985, the legislation aims to provide extra protection to those at risk.
The Bill will put in place statutory guidance from the Scottish Government as well as FGM protection orders, which could be brought before courts to care for a person who has been subjected to this, to prevent it from happening to someone at risk.
Using these orders, the courts will be given the power to have a protected person taken to a place of safety.
By passing the Bill “we will be one step further towards our goal or ultimately preventing and eradicating female genital mutilation”, she added.
Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne, a former nurse, told how she had had to hand over a baby she knew was going to be taken out of the country for FGM.
She added: “It has played on me most of my life, and for that reason alone I welcome this Bill’s arrival and hope it will go on to prevent that ever happening to anybody else again.”
Ms McKelvie told her: “This Bill would protect that baby now, and protect a professional like Michelle Ballantyne in her role.”
The minister said: “It is estimated around 200 million girls and women across 30 countries have been subjected to FGM and the prevalence of FGM in Scotland is difficult to estimate because of the hidden nature of the crime.”
She stated: “As minister with responsibility for the Scottish Government in this area, I am committed to preventing FGM in Scotland and ensuring girls and women who are at risk of FGM are protected from harm.”