On 27 February 2013 the Seminar "Towards European Action to end Female Genital Mutilation" took place in the European Parliament, as part of the END FGM-European Campaign aiming "to put female genital mutilation high on the EU agenda and to echo the voices of women and girls living with FGM and those at risk of it". More than 500 000 victims of FGM live in Europe, where an estimated 180 000 girls are at risk every year.

While, in some European countries, FGM is liable under general criminal law, others have specific criminal law provisions which do not necessarily result in more prosecutions: detecting and reporting cases has proved to be problematic so, according to Dr. Christine Loudes, Director of END FGM Campaign, "the EU must take a holistic approach which engages community members to ensure girls are protected and their families are not stigmatized".

The necessity of bringing all stakeholders together was stressed during the Seminar: prevention has to be the cornerstone of any strategy that could be developed and medical professionals and key figures from the communities (such as religious leaders) have to be trained on how to address the problem of FGM . A good practice exchange between Africa and Europe is also needed, as well as educating men and, more particularly, young boys, in the long-life consequences of performing this cultural practice.

The key areas of work for the EU are:

  • Collecting data about FGM, to be able to act on it.
  • Guaranteeing access to appropriate healthcare to women with FGM.
  • Improving protection mechanisms.
  • Clear asylum guidelines.
  • Including and promoting the FGM issue on EU’s dialogues on cooperation with countries where it is prevalent.

In the words of Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director of FORWARD UK, "the time to end FGM is now: there are too many people at risk, but only one would be too many"

Background information:

2010: the European Commission published an action-oriented strategy to promote gender equality.

2011: the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women was signed by some Member States.

6 February 2013 six EU Commissioners confirmed the EU’s commitment to end FGM; several MEPs have also signed the Amnesty International’s Declaration of Intent, committing themselves to work to end FGM.

More information:

- END FGM Campaign website

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Last modified on March 15 2013.