International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM

To mark International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM this week, our My Voice project visited staff at Edinburgh Airport to talk to them about the issue.

The term FGM, or ‘cutting’ as it is sometimes known, refers to a range of procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to female genital organs where there is no medical need.

During a short training course, we spoke to airline, immigration and security staff about what FGM is, about the law in Scotland and, crucially, about how to raise the issue with passengers travelling to and from countries where FGM is practiced.

We want to support airport staff to raise the issue in a sensitive, non-discriminatory manner that promotes increased awareness of FGM. The emphasis is on highlighting the health implications and available support, while reinforcing that the practice is illegal, so that people feel more confident to challenge FGM.

FGM is predominantly practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. There are an estimated 24,000 people living in Scotland who were born in countries known to practice FGM, although the number directly affected is unknown. Attitudes towards the practice are strongly linked to culture and often justified as a necessary part of raising young women, closely tied to sexuality, morality and modesty.

We want to challenge these attitudes and highlight FGM as an extreme form of violence against women and girls with wide ranging implications for their physical, mental and sexual health.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is a focus for action to work towards a UN goal to eliminate the practice by 2030

This was the second time we have been invited to work with staff from various teams at Edinburgh Airport and we are pleased to be partnering with them on this issue.