A Scottish midwife has revealed how she deals with cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) on an almost daily basis, seeing around 150 affected women and girls every year.
Hilary Alba is the lead midwife for Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, and is responsible for asylum seekers and trafficked women in the city.
Despite the extent of the problem, there has not been a single conviction for FGM in Scotland, where those who aid or carry out the procedure, either in Scotland or abroad, are supposed to face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
“We’re not sure if it is happening over here,” Mrs. Alba told The Times. “I think if there was a conviction, it would be huge. It would send out the right message. People know there hasn’t been a conviction and they can get away with it.”
According to the paper, it has been claimed that people from England and across Europe have traveled to Scotland to have their daughters mutilated as the nation has been seen as a “soft touch” on the issue.
In France, more than 100 people were jailed for FGM by 2014, thanks to a “zero tolerance” approach to the crime.
Speaking in March, Mr. Alba told the Glasgow Evening Times: “I see about three or four women a week.
“There are grades of it and some of the more serious cases are pretty horrific. It’s one of the questions we will ask, depending on what country the woman has come from – if she’s been cut.
“You have to talk to her about the legal issues because obviously, it’s illegal in the UK to practice FGM… It’s very difficult to eradicate because it’s so embedded in the culture.”
FGM is most often associated with African Muslims, although it is not exclusive to them, and is extremely prevalent in some Muslim-majority countries in Asia, such as Indonesia.
Earlier this month it was revealed that more than 5,000 new cases were recorded in England last year, equating to 14 new cases being recorded a day.