End FGM EU writes its recommendations to the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU

Malta takes on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the first time since its accession to the EU. The Maltese mandate concludes the Trio formed with the Netherlands and Slovakia. With a strong focus on economy, the Trio programme also emphasized key areas of particular interest to the End FGM European Network: health, gender equality, protection of human rights, migration, international cooperation and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

FGM & the European Union FGM is a violation of the human rights of women and girls affected by the practice and amounts to torture. The European Parliament estimated that at least 500,000 survivors of FGM currently live in Europe, and that 180,000 are at risk of FGM each year, although the real figure could be higher given the hidden nature of the practice

The Network welcomes Malta’s commitment to continue to combat gender-based violence, “in particular by promoting the sharing of best practices and exchanging information on existing legislation, policies and strategies, as well as statistical data and studies”, and the related events scheduled in February 2017.

Building on these elements, on the Council Conclusions "Preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation" of June 2014 and on the programme and priorities of the Maltese Presidency on migration and social inclusion, the Network calls on the Presidency and the Council to act, in the scope of its competences to:

  • Ensure human rights remain a core priority in the EU agenda, notably by mainstreaming human rights issues when relevant in EU legislation and policy.
  • Mainstream gender into the Council’s contributions to EU legislation and policy, in particular those related to human rights, migration and international protection, women’s rights, children’s rights and fight against gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • Work in relation with the European Commission and Member States to ensure the effective transposition and implementation in all EU Member States of Directive 2012/29/EU (Victims’ Rights Directive), Directive 2011/95/EU (Qualification Directive), Directive 2013/32/EU (Asylum Procedures Directive) and Directive 2013/33/EU (Reception Conditions Directive).
  • Work in collaboration with the European Parliament on the European Commission’s proposals to reform the Common European Asylum System to be voted in 2017, in particular by ensuring these proposals:

International protection

  • Mainstream gender and human rights to enhance the protection of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees.
  • Give clear guidelines to Member States as regards the international protection of vulnerable groups fleeing past or fear of persecution, including FGM survivors and persons at risk of FGM e.g. gender and child sensitivity, access to female interviewers and interpreters, credibility assessment taking trauma into account, gendered data collection, acknowledgement of past persecution etc.
  • Develop high standards as regards the qualification process, the asylum procedures process and the reception conditions of asylum-seekers and refugees to ensure the respect of human rights and international law.
  • Create an effective and adequately funded EU Agency for Asylum to support Member States, in particular on country of origin information, training of asylum officers and fairness of the asylum system.
  • Involve proper training of professionals e.g. health practitioners, public officers etc., notably on gender issues and gender-based violence, including FGM.

Istanbul Convention and the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Encourage and invite all EU Member States to ratify and implement the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
  • Work with relevant stakeholders, notably the EEAS, the UN, EU Member States’ governments and third countries to develop internal and external joint actions towards the implementation of Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.

⊠Resume and conclude negotiations with EU Member States to facilitate the access of the EU to the Istanbul Convention by the end of 2017.

Data collection and funding

  • Encourage data collection using a common methodology on the prevalence of gender-based violence in each Member State, including in the asylum system, with a special focus on FGM.
  • Work in collaboration with the European Parliament and the European Commission to ensure sustainable funding on relevant matters e.g. joint programmes between EU and third-countries organisations, programmes against harmful practices and violence against women, community-based awareness-raising and behavioural change programmes etc.

Member States and EU Institutions

  • Call for Member States and EU Institutions and agencies to develop actions and programmes against violence against women in the framework of the year of focused actions to end VAW in 2017.
  • Call for Member States to ensure appropriate training of relevant professionals (health practitioners, public officers, police, teachers, social workers etc.) and access to holistic and specialised services to address the issue of gender-based violence, including FGM.

⊠Call for Member States and the European Commission to develop education and awareness-raising actions and programmes on human rights and on gender-based violence, including on FGM and in collaboration with FGM-affected communities.

Call for Member States to develop actions and programmes to end VAW dedicated to prevention and protection from violence, including FGM, and to collaborate with each other and with third-country partners to identify and implement promising practices in this area.