EU adopts unique approach in tackling FGM

Thursday, August 08, 2019

As worries and fears regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continue to grip Europe, the EU is currently tackling the matter head-on in a distinct and exceptional method by not only curbing the menace but also trying to eradicate it once and for all. 

Speaking to The Point, Bernadette Gemmell, European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Research Communications officer, revealed that the EU has ‘‘undertaken broad actions and adopted a multidimensional approach to tackling FGM’’.

Also recognising the stringent and rigorous efforts made by both The Gambia and Senegal to prevent or eliminate the practice was accordingly highlighted.

Bernadette thus revealed that even though ‘‘our research focuses on the situation of FGM in the European Union...prevention efforts are necessary in all countries where FGM is taking place and we know that ending the practice will require joint efforts that engage communities — both women and men — policymakers and civil society, to ensure prevention strategies and awareness-raising campaign work’’.

Bernadette emphasised that FGM is a ‘‘severe form of gender-based violence, leaving deep physical and psychological scars on the lives of victims around the world.’’ 

Bernadette also strongly noted the importance of awareness raising and sharing good practice among both the countries of origin and FGM-practising communities in the EU.

He believes that ‘‘connections are essential if we want to see to an end to the practice…FGM is a violent form of subordination affecting women and girls and as a result, it stands in gross contradiction to the principles of gender equality.’’

Furthermore Bernadette ascribed that the EU strongly condemns all forms of violence against women and that it has undertaken ‘‘broad actions and adopted a multidimensional approach’’ to tackling FGM.

Expanding further on the importance attached to it by the European Commission (EC), Bernadette, pointed out one of the priorities of the EC, as outlined in its communication on the elimination of FGM. It is meant to improve the understanding of the practice in the European Union.

The German Family Affair Minister had revealed that 50,000 girls currently living in the country have undergone the practice of FGM.

In addition, the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on FGM involving well-known officials had relaunched and reinforced the importance attached to its eradication.

Despite the fact that FGM was defined as a crime under French law since 1983 with a threat of imprisonment of 10 years, some girls still undergo the practice. Under the same law, ‘‘cutting a girl’’ under the age of 15 can result to up to 20 years jail term.

Both parents and guardians who are part of the crime by sending their daughters out of Europe for that purpose will not be spared.

Recently, a team of investigative officers surprisingly appeared across European airports after the school holidays interviewing and investigation young girls who arrived from countries suspected of involvement in the practice.

Few years ago, The Point reported that Spanish judges had sentenced two Gambians to 12 years in jail for unlawfully conducting FGM.

Author: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent