EU to support UN call to end female genital mutilation
(Brussels, 19 December 2012) European countries are expected to join the UN call for intensified efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM), a human rights violation which affects 8,000 girls daily. The resolution to be adopted at the General Assembly tomorrow is the first of its kind, and is an important step in global efforts to tackle this human rights issue.
“The resolution is a reminder to governments to develop a long-term vision, which requires national action plans to effectively end FGM and protect women and girls suffering from the life-long physical and psychological consequences of this harmful practice”, said Dr Christine Loudes, Director of Amnesty International’s END FGM European Campaign.
According to the European Institute of Gender Equality, eight EU countries have national action plans that deal exclusively with FGM: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Sweden. Eleven EU countries address FGM under national action plans on violence against women and/or gender equality. However, not all national action plans are supported by government action or resources nor has their impact been assessed. Most action plans have not been renewed owing to the lack of government support.
Women and girls under threat or subjected to FGM have the grounds to seek asylum, but this right is not granted in all EU countries. Europe’s asylum laws, which are being revised, must ensure that this threat is recognised not only in law but in practice. Also, reception centres should offer necessary support services to the women and girls affected.
“By joining the international community in adopting the resolution on FGM, the EU is showing its resolve. This should be translated into action at European and national level. We also expect continued international cooperation particularly at the forthcoming UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2013,” said Dr Loudes.
FGM is commonplace in 28 countries in Africa as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia and Indonesia. However it is an issue of worldwide concern. Women and girls in diaspora communities are at risk of being subjected to FGM. Half a million girls and women living in Europe have been subjected to FGM and another 180,000 are at risk each year, according to the European Parliament’s estimates.
The UN resolution was initially adopted by the human rights committee (third committee) of the UN General Assembly by consensus on 26 November 2012.
FGM is not always considered to bepersecution in certain EU countries according to a comparative report by Asylum Aid, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (Spain – coordinator), France Terre d’asile (France), Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (Italy) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary) on Gender Related Asylum Claims in Europe: Comparative Analysis of Law, Policies and Practice Focusing on Women in Nine EU Member States, May 2012, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4fc74d342.html
The END FGM European Campaign, led by Amnesty International, in partnership with 14 partner organisations across Europe, seeks European action to bring female genital mutilation to an end. Find its recommendations, 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/