Margo MacDonald: Unity can fight for human rights

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I was shocked to learn from a recent parliamentary debate of the likelihood that more than 3000 women and girls in Scotland are at risk of being subjected to forced female circumcision or as it is more correctly known, female genital mutilation (FGM).

The debate was instigated by Jenny Marra, pictured, one of the new, bright young things elected to swell the ranks of the “monstrous regiment” of women in Holyrood, as John Knox would have described us. As for myself I am very pleased to have been a founder member of the scary women’s brigade in our national parliament.

Women’s rights and needs, whether in Scotland or beyond, have taken up a fair bit of parliamentary time that we probably wouldn’t have been able to claim in Westminster.

That is not to make a partisan point, it is simply stating the obvious: there is greater competition for the debating time available in Westminster. The whole question of women’s rights is an excellent example of where after becoming independent Scotland will continue to work with England. In this case to resist FGM by campaign to eradicate the abhorrent practice of butchering young women and children.

The National Health Services north and south of the Border will continue to do as they are doing, to identify girls and women at risk whether in Scotland, England, Wales or any other country where FGM is known to be part of the culture.

The meeting between anti-FGM campaigners from Malawi and Lynne Featherstone, the English MP and Under Secretary for International Development, has unfortunately had to be postponed.

That would have provided the chance for Humza Yousaf MSP, to meet up with his Westminster equivalent, exchange information and ways in which they can pool their ideas. It all would help develop the campaign to stop the practice of young girls and women being taken to their country of origin for this butchery to be carried out.

There is absolutely no reason why the same sort of people doing the same sort of jobs, and for the same reason, should not work together as partners to achieve the same result. It would be foolish to claim that any one parliament would have the monopoly on good ideas.

It is pretty certain that working together they would achieve the outcome they both desire, whilst allowing both parliaments the space and opportunity to protect and promote any particular part of the policy which they feel needs a greater priority.

You could say that would be having the best of both worlds. This is true of a good many policy initiatives that might be taken from the governments on either side of the Border.

The Yes campaign has been slow to explain how some ideas can be put into effect immediately while others will take longer. This might depend on availability of suitable government machinery, that could be amended or expanded to meet the needs of any particular objective held by both governments in Westminster and Holyrood.

Welcome reply to modern slavery

Congratulations to Kenny MacAskill. Readers may have spotted that I have been a trifle pit oot at some of the changes the Justice Minister has overseen in the creation of Scotland’s single police service

. . . which we call Police Scotland.

Legislation to allow the government to tackle human trafficking or, looked at another way, slavery in the 21st century, is welcome.

That is an indication of the international responsibility which any future Scottish Government will assume.

To date there have been precious few prosecutions concerning alleged slavery on either side of the Border. However, we must conclude that we are little different from other countries in which the pursuit of human traffickers is perhaps longer developed. He says the aim is to make Scotland “a hostile environment for human traffickers”.

The Justice Minister stressed that he is working in co-operation with his Westminster counterpart and, at the same time, ensuring that prosecution and legal processes function independently.

Also, the Justice Minister noted that the legislation would reach out to the needs of any victims of this vile trade. Mr MacAskill says the legislation will “identify and support the needs of victims”. Getting to victims in Scotland, though, is perhaps a good example of where the local intelligence and practices are essential if the national objective is to be realised.

I wanted better for the newly sage Yogi

When I caught glimpses of John Hughes – that is Yogi to those of an Easter Road persuasion – I decided that if I couldn’t be a Happy Hibby for this year’s League Cup I would be a temporary Caley Jag for the day.

I don’t know whether it’s in the air they breathe up there in Inverness, or the whisky they put in their water, but it seems that Yogi’s comments leading up to Sunday’s match carried a new authority and confidence. He was certainly a lot smarter than the average bear.

Although I have nothing against Aberdeen, I wish the Highland dream could have had a happy ending.