Jenny Marra MSP :   One Billion Rising Campaign   (Speech in the Scottish Parliament )

17 April 2013

I thank my colleague Kez Dugdale for bringing the debate to Parliament.

Her commitment to equality is evident in her work in this building and in her community every day.

With such powerful advocates, we can continue to march forward.

I will speak about a group of girls and women who cannot rise or march forward because abuse of their human rights is hidden.

That human rights abuse is hidden to such an extent that, to date, there has not been a single police report of or prosecution or conviction for that abuse in Scotland.

It is one of the worst abuses of human rights that I have heard of.

Many of those involved do not know that what is happening to them is illegal, a fundamental breach of their human rights and, indeed, torture.

I am talking about girls in Scotland who have their genitals cut out—their clitoris dug out and removed by a scalpel.

Sewn up, they are left to bear the indescribable pain and long-term health consequences. Death can be caused by haemorrhage or infections.

Cysts, abscesses, chronic pelvic infections, repeated urinary tract infections, increased complications during childbirth, traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, psychosexual problems

That is the searing and inscrutable pain that some school-age girls in this country suffer.

Young girls and women, mainly in our refugee communities in Scotland, experience that.

They experience that on Scottish soil and they are sent to other countries, which their families are from, to have the procedure—or physical violation—done to them.

I am loth to sanitise and normalise that torturous physical abuse by calling it a procedure.

Women who have been through that—an estimated 3,000 women in Scotland—still consent to have the same done to their daughters.


Because many women who come to Scotland as refugees have received no education and are not in a position to know that female genital mutilation is not normal procedure.

They are told in their communities that it is culturally, religiously and socially acceptable and necessary.

They are told that it will make them more female and more marriageable and prevent them from promiscuity.

They are told that their daughters will fare better if they undergo this torturous human rights abuse, and consent is given.

Female genital mutilation has been specifically against the law in this country since 1985.

In 2005, this Parliament passed an act that extended the crime to those responsible for taking girls and women to another country to perform the torturous act there.

We have the full power of law in this country to prevent female genital mutilation, but to date there has been not one police report or prosecution or conviction in our courts, although we know that it is happening.

I would very much appreciate it if the minister in her closing remarks made a commitment to investigating why that is the case.

I want to know why our law is not being enforced in this country.

Today, I rise in indignation for the children whom the law is failing—for the girls and women undergoing torture and the most grievous of human rights abuses imaginable.

Today, I pledge to continue to make their voices heard.


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