[Brussels, 03 February 2012] Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to 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
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