Female genital mutilation: The scourge affecting half a million women in the EU

Watch Zero Tolerance for FGM Europarl Video here

Half a million women in the EU and as many as 200 million worldwide are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of the most harmful violations of women´s human rights. It consists of the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia. Most often it is carried out on girls aged between five and eight, usually in poor hygienic conditions. There are no medical benefits and it can provoke severe physical and psychological consequences for a lifetime. MEP's are reiterating their call to stop this practice worldwide on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6th February.

FGM is still performed in some African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries, but young girls from some immigrant families are not safe even in the EU, where FGM is considered a crime. In fact some 500,000 women across Europe have been subjected to FGM while a further 180,000 women and girls are at risk of being subjected to this practice every year.

"Culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called honour cannot be a justification for any acts of violence against women," said Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, chair of Parliament's women's rights committee.

In 2013, the EU unveiled a new strategy to end the practice. On 7th February, MEP's adopted a resolution calling for measures to raise awareness, preventative action in refugee camps, the highest standards of protection for asylum seekers on grounds relating to female genital mutilation, more flexible funding for grassroots organisations and better training for people fighting to end the practice. In addition MEP's urge EU countries to explicitly outlaw female genital mutilation being carried out by doctors in hospitals and to be more vigilant when it comes to detecting, investigating and prosecuting cases of FGM.

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