AN "abbhorent" practice and a "violation" – further measures to protect women and girls against female genital mutilation (FGM) are to go before MSPs.

It is not known how widespread the illegal practice FGM – which involves the cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genital tissue – is in Scotland.

However, as many as 2750 girls were born here to mothers from countries where FGM is known to be carried out between 2001-12.

And last year the country's leading charity on the issue told this newspaper it was working with almost 700 FGM-affected women.

The organisation, which spoke to The National on the condition that it was not named to avoid disrupting its sensitive work, said the survivors hailed from more than 30 different countries.

Now new Scottish Government legislation aims to improve the protections for those at risk of undergoing the procedure, which is often carried out in unhygienic circumstances without pain relief and can lead to death from infection or blood loss.

As well as introducing protection orders to safeguard women and girls, the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill aims to bring in country-wide guidance for health professionals and agencies to improve the response for victims and those at-risk.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deeply abhorrent practice and a fundamental violation of the human rights of women and girls. It is a physical manifestation of deep-rooted gender inequality.

“FGM is already illegal. This Bill will provide for increased protection with the introduction of protection orders and putting guidance on a statutory footing to improve the response of services.”

Edinburgh woman Neneh Bojang, who underwent FGM as a child, welcomed the Bill.

She said: “I was just nine years old when I was subjected to FGM. It was excruciating and has caused me pain throughout my life.

"If this Bill prevents even just one woman from going through the same, then in my eyes, it will be a success.”

If approved by MSPs, the measures will allow individuals who fear they are at risk of FGM to apply to the courts for a protection order.

Police, local authorities and other individuals will also be able to make the applications.