Men have a role to play but they don't play it

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“Men Speak Out” is a 27-month partnership (January 2015 - March 2017) between GAMS Belgium, FORWARD UK, HIMILO foundation in the Netherlands and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp in Belgium, which responds to Daphne III priority on harmful traditional practices. The aim of this project was to engage men in the process of ending FGM and, on a larger scale, to end violence against women and promote gender equality through a human rights’ approach. Peer educators have been trained in the 3 countries and specific tools (posters, booklet, video, TV and radio programmes) addressing FGM with a human rights and gender approach have been developed for men. Education tools have been disseminated in schools and migrant associations and outreach activities were organised by the male peer educators. National events have been held in the 3 countries with men AND women from the community to invite them to speak out and to engage in dialogue with women about FGM.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the Daphne Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not reflect the views of the European Commission.

In the context of this project a mixed methods study was conducted in Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands to increase knowledge of men’s role in the perpetuation of the practice. Four key problems were addressed in this research: (1) Men’s understanding of FGM, its health risks and human rights violations, (2) Communication between women and men about the practice of FGM, (3) Men’s opinions of FGM, (4) Male involvement in the decision making process to end the practice. For the qualitative research 60 in-depth interviews (IDI) and 9 Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were conducted across Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK (20 IDI and 3 FGD per country). In each country 16 male and 4 female participants were interviewed; 2 FGDs were conducted with men, one with women. Using snowball sampling techniques, the research participants were purposively selected among African migrant communities with a high prevalence of FGM. The objective of the quantitative study was to estimate the proportion of men who are in favour of the continuation of FGM in Europe as compared to their country of origin. The aim was therefore to find out whether migration and residence in Europe affects men’s attitudes towards FGM.