Several leaders in Europe have condemned female genital mutilation (FGM) and vowed to support other countries outside Europe in making the barbaric practice unlawful.
The joint statement came as International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was marked globally. An EU-wide web platform was also launched as part of efforts to tackle this crime.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, and the EU’s Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Commissioner, Vĕra Jourová, and Development Commissioner, Neven Mimica, joined together to reaffirm the EU’s strong commitment to eradicating FGM.
“Over 200 million girls and women have suffered from FGM across the world, including 500,000 living in Europe. Three million girls worldwide are estimated to be at risk every year. This is a damaging practice, which horrifically violates the human rights, dignity and physical integrity of girls and women,” said the statement.
The President and Commissioner said the EU is dedicating 2017 to combatting all forms of violence against women, included FGM.
“Women and girls must be protected from the violence and the pain inflicted by this practice. Teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, lawyers, judges, or asylum officers, are key to this aim. The EU will now support these professionals in this task of detecting girls that could be at risk of becoming victims of Female Genital Mutilation by offering an EU-wide web platform.”
The President and Commissioners also stated that they vow to protect women and girls in migration by ensuring their access to medical and psycho-social care, as well as legal support.
“Through reforming our Common European Asylum System we will be able to better address the specific needs of female asylum seekers, who have experienced gender-based violence or harm,” according to the statement.
FGM is a crime in all EU Member States, and the statement said support would be available to partner countries outside Europe to take action to render FGM unlawful too. Since the start of the relevant EU-UN programme, The Gambia and Nigeria have adopted ground-breaking legislation to criminalise this practice, they added. so that other partners will follow this example and we stand ready to support.
“Beyond legal and policy changes, FGM will only end when societies challenge and condemn the norms that propagate this practice. The European Commission supports this change not just at political level, but also at grassroots level, involving fathers, mothers, girls, boys, and faith or community leaders alike. Better national data collection and new methodologies for measuring the change of social norms at community level will be developed to facilitate this while funding is available to support girls and women at risk or to provide access to care services for those having undergone FGM.
The leaders added that the Sustainable Development Goals provide a unique opportunity to bring together and mobilise the entire international community to meet the ambitious objective of eliminating Female Genital Mutilation.
“There is much we have been doing, there is much more we are determined to do. It is our duty and our commitment to work hard and put an end to a violation that deprives women of their fundamental rights.”
To find out more about Female Genital Mutilation and what the European Union is doing to eliminate this practice, see the Q&A and the website of an EU-wide training platform https://uefgm.org/