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Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in EU

The European Commission issued yesterday a joint statement to reaffirm EU’s commitment to eradicate female genital mutilation/cutting. The statement was issued on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation and calls on putting an end to a practice “which is painful, traumatic and causes long-term health consequences”.

Female genital mutilation/cutting is a practice which is nearly always carried out on children. It is a fundamental human rights violation and an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls, says the statement.

Despite the efforts of the European Union and its partners, 200 million girls are still suffering from this violation, which occurs in all parts of the world.

In Europe itself, girls are still today subject to this illegal practice. It is estimated that at least 500,000 women in Europe have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting.

Medical evidence shows that female genital mutilation/cutting can seriously impact many normal body functions, increases maternal and infant mortality, and can also cause lifelong trauma beyond the physical damages.

The Commission works on its prevention by training professionals, such as judges, asylum officers or doctors who are in contact with girls at risk.

Female genital mutilation is a crime in all EU Member States and in most of them a person, who bring girls outside the EU to be mutilated can be prosecuted. The victims of such practices benefit from a high level of protection in the EU.

The statement concludes that “We want a society where women are free from violence and free to change the world.”

Asked by The Brussels Times about religious circumcision, a spokesperson for the European Commission replied that it in no way can be compared with Female Genital Mutilation.

“While religious circumcision does not fall within the scope of EU law, EU Member States should ensure that all fundamental rights at stake – including the right to practice and manifest religion or belief – are effectively respected and protected.”

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was first introduced in 2003 following a conference in Africa and was adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights as an international awareness day.

The Brussels Times