Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation in Europe

FEMALE GINITAL MUTILATION

This involves the cutting of some parts or the ritual removal of or all of the external female genitalia. FGM is an engraved social norm and this practice is carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anesthesia, FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora communities around the world. It is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond; in half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five.

Under the basic Human Rights Act , this practice is not allowed or neither advisable unless it has been approved clinically for health reasons. Under this law this is a total violation of a woman`s right to sexual pleasure.

On the 27th January 2016, the African Health Policy Network together with a group of International Community Activists met in Belgium to discuss on the way forward in Stopping this practice within communities. We discussed about the concepts and tools used to combat as well as protect women from this practice . Long term gender approach and support services available for victims , was one of the major objectives of this debate. There has been an issue on prosecution of those who initiate this act, those who are involved in the planning as well as those who advocate for it. But here in the UK we have only witnessed one legal prosecution of this nature.

THE WAY FORWARD

A multidisciplinary cooperation guide to stop this practice has been developed at the Istanbul FGM convention as well as for Professionals. There is power in partnership work which involves a strong team of parents, community, local authorities, Health professionals, schools and social care. The greater involvement of MEN is one of the strongly suggested strategy.

As community organisations we need to look at capacity building, Advocacy work to amplify one voice, and build bridges to stop stereotypes. We need more trained Health professionals , doctors, midwives, social workers and the affected communities and build up family friendly services to access more information directly from victims. We also need to build up strong victim support services and networks to stop FGM in communities. Delegates formed this strong team of women advocates who are willing to stand and support the move for the total eradication of FGM in their countries of origin .