On 28 of February 2019, the End FGM European Network and its Belgian members GAMS Belgium and INTACT submitted a Shadow Report to the Council of Europe GREVIO Committee, on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention by Belgium concerning prevention, protection, prosecution and integrated policies on FGM (see background information below). Although this report focuses only on this harmful practice, its aim is not to single it out in isolation, but to emphasise it while still seeing it on the continuum of gender-based violence against women and girls and in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
This report represents the Belgian chapter of a wider coordinated effort of End FGM EU to engage all its members in countries which are under GREVIO revision to present an FGM-focused report in order to bring the topic to the experts’ attention, which is too often neglected by State authorities. This project stems from our Guide on the Istanbul Convention as a tool to end female genital mutilation. It puts in practice the Guide’s holistic approach by considering its full application to FGM as a form of violence against women and girls which needs to be addressed through prevention, protection, prosecution and integrated policies. It does not only analyse the application of the specific FGM Article 38 of the Istanbul Convention, but addresses the full range of articles in the Convention and how they are applied to tackle FGM in Belgium.
After analysing the information gathered from the Italian government, civil society and other international bodies, the GREVIO Committee will invite the Belgian authorities for a face-to-face dialogue in Strasbourg in July 2019. Afterwards, the experts will conduct a country visit in October 2019 which will help them gather first-hand country evidence and testimonies. All these steps will contribute to the drafting of the GREVIO Report on the Belgian implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which will be published in June 2020.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the “Istanbul Convention”) is the first legally binding instrument recognising that FGM is also a European issue. It is shaped around the ‘four Ps approach’ (prevention, protection, prosecution and integrated policies) to end violence against women and includes a specific Article (38) on criminalisation of FGM.
In order to ensure that correct national implementation is being independently monitored, the Istanbul Convention established the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), a monitoring body which undertakes periodic revision of State Parties to the Convention. To this purpose, the GREVIO Committee engages in dialogue with states and receives information from NGOs and other international and national human rights bodies. At the end of such reviews, GREVIO drafts and publishes reports evaluating legislative and policy measures taken by the Parties to give effects to the provisions of the Convention, points out shortcomings and makes concrete recommendations.