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Monday, April 5, 2010

Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Calling For A Comprehensive Strategy In UK And Europe

March 23, 2010
By Forward UK

FORWARD UK and Amnesty International’s END FGM European campaign call on European leaders to adopt concrete measures to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and to protect young girls and women affected by FGM who live in the European Union (EU).

In partnership with the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, FORWARD UK and END FGM European Campaign launched a strategy with practical recommendations for the EU in London on 22nd March 2010 in the Jubilee Room of the Houses of Parliament.

These recommendations are based on human rights principles and informed by experiences of women and girls’ in Europe. Touring across five cities in Europe between February and March 2010, the END FGM European Campaign is urging European leaders to act against this violence against women, and particularly, the girl child.

FGM is a form of violence against women and girls and a human rights violation. The practice is illegal in the UK, yet in 2001 it was estimated that over 66,000 women and girls were affected by FGM in the UK and a 2005 study estimated around 32,000 girls were at high risk of FGM.

Christine McCafferty Member of Parliament and Chair of the APPG and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) says that:
“Since the APPG Parliamentary Hearings on FGM in 2000, the UK government has made progress in supporting the health needs of women and girls living with FGM, and the FGM Act 2003 has tightened legislation to prevent FGM. What is needed now is stronger multi-agency collaboration within the UK and Europe to ensure the full protection of all girls residing in Europe.

“I very much welcome CoE’s draft Convention to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, which will prevent, combat and prosecute violence against women and promote international co-operation.”

Naana Otoo-Oyortey the Executive Director of FORWARD stresses that:
“While FGM features in the new UK strategy on violence against women and girls, there is still need for a national UK action plan on FGM. This is because the nature of FGM requires a commitment to a comprehensive EU strategy to end FGM globally and build bridges between communities in Africa and Europe.”

“The UK already has some promising initiatives in place to prevent FGM. It should use the existing EU framework to share such practices with other countries and take a leading role in the EU for protection of the rights of women and girls”, says Dr Christine Loudes, Campaign Director, END FGM European Campaign.

The five key dimensions through which the EU can protect women and girls living with, or at risk of, FGM are as follows:
•Collection of data on FGM prevalence in Europe
•Accessible and appropriate healthcare for women living with FGM
•Better protection mechanisms to address violence against women and children
•Clear asylum guidelines for those under threat of FGM, and
•Mainstreaming of FGM in EU’s dialogues on cooperation with third countries where FGM is prevalent

Leyla Hussein – an FGM survivor, a mother and a youth outreach worker - will be speaking about her personal experience of FGM at the launch event.