EUROPEAN WOMEN’S LOBBY
Does the EU have zero vision on ending female genital mutilation
(Brussels, 3 February 2012) Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance of female genital mutilation (FGM), Amnesty International and the European Women’s Lobby challenged the European Union to lay out its vision and commitment for ending female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women. Since 2010, when the European Commission committed to adopt a strategy on violence against women, including FGM, there has been no coherent, structured attempt to address this human rights violation.
The European Parliament estimates that 500,000 women and girls living in Europe are suffering from the lifelong consequences of FGM and another 180,000 are at risk each year. Most often, girls are taken abroad during their summer vacation and are forced to undergo FGM to ensure their marriageability or social status. While some member states have laws and other policy measures in place, there is a wide disparity amongst the states.
France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other countries where FGM has been criminalised for over a decade continue to grapple with FGM. “This shows that legislation is not the master key that will lock all doors to this human rights violation. The EU must take a holistic approach which engages community members to ensure girls are protected and their families are not stigmatized”, said Dr Christine Loudes, Director, END FGM European Campaign, led by Amnesty International.
Violence against women, of which FGM is one of the gravest examples, is a widespread structural phenomenon: almost every other woman in the EU will experience some form of violence during her lifetime; one in five will fall victim to domestic violence; one in ten will be raped or forced into sexual acts.
Amnesty International and European Women’s Lobby believe that one step that each member state and the EU can already take to protect women and girls against FGM and other forms of violence is to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“Ending all forms of violence against women, including FGM, should be a priority, especially in times of crisis. We know that the EU has the means to end violence against women and deliver a strategy to guarantee all women the right to live free from violence; so what are we waiting for
”, asked Cecile Greboval, EWL Secretary General.
To mark the International day of Zero Tolerance of female genital mutilation, Amnesty International has launched a video calling on European leaders to END FGM! Watch it here: www.endfgm.eu
In September 2010, the European Commission presented an action-oriented strategy to combat violence against women in its strategy to promote gender equality. Amongst other actions, it promised to “adopt an EU wide strategy on combating violence against women, including practices of female genital mutilation”.
Read the European Commission strategy and action plan here – http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence has been signed by 18 countries with no ratifications so far. (For latest updates, check the Council of Europe website – http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp
Female genital mutilation is a human rights violation that affects 8000 girls each day across the world. The European Institute of Gender Equality has launched a study to collect data on the practice of FGM in the EU. The results are expected to be released in 2013.
The END FGM European Campaign, led by Amnesty International, launched a strategy in 2010 to end FGM with specific demands for EU institutions and member states. The summary of the strategy is available in English and French here – http://www.endfgm.eu/en/news-and-events/news/press-releases/amnesty-international-campaign-launches-strategy-for-europe-to-end-fgm-0022/
The European Women’s Lobby issued a press release on 25 November 2011 on the impact of the crisis on violence against women and reiterated its call for EU action to end violence against women. To get more information, click here – http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php