Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 6 February 2020, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell i, Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová i, Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli i, and Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen i, joined together to reaffirm the EU's strong commitment to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation worldwide. They made the following statement:
“Girls and women have the exclusive right to make decisions about their bodies. None should see their body subjected to any kind of violence or abuse under any circumstances. Female Genital Mutilation is a severe breach of human rights and a dangerous violation of women's physical integrity. Today, we join our voices to say: Enough is enough. Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
President Ursula von der Leyen's agenda for Europe has put the prevention of gender-based violence and the protection of victims at the heart of the Union's equality policy. The forthcoming European Union's Gender Equality Strategy will address all forms of violence against women, including Female Genital Mutilation. Currently, the European Union funds seven on-going projects in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands and Germany as part of the European Network to end female genital mutilation.The Commission also continues to provide funding through the Daphne strand of the EU programmes for projects aimed at combating gender-based violence.
The European Union addresses ways to tackle Female Genital Mutilation with partner countries as part of its human rights dialogues. This includes adopting laws and regulations to prevent and to criminalize this practice, providing prevention, protection and care services, raising awareness on its consequences, or developing capacities of practitioners. This work is supported by the implementation of concrete projects. In addition, the European Union is also investing substantive amounts to end violence against women and girls through the Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in prevalent countries.
However, more needs to be done. Despite the growing political commitments and investment to end Female Genital Mutilation by 2030, the change is too slow. The European Union is committed to work together with survivors, affected communities and experts to break the gender stereotypes and social norms to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. No custom, tradition, culture, religion or so-called honour can justify such a dangerous criminal act in violation of the rights of women and girls.
We will continue our work to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We must eliminate Female Genital Mutilation once and for all.”
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, as defined by the World Health Organisation.
According to estimations, more than 200 million girls and women have suffered from Female Genital Mutilation across the world, including at least 500,000 living in Europe. 68 million girls in 25 countries are expected to be cut between 2015 and 2030 according to recent estimates.
FGM is carried out for cultural, religious and/or social reasons on young girls between infancy and the age of 15. FGM constitutes a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls; it has severe short and long-term physical and psychological consequences.
Many girls and women living within the European Union are also at risk or have suffered from FGM. The European Institute for Gender Equality has carried out research on the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the European Union and has published a study on the prevalence of FGM in Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta.
Female Genital Mutilation is a form of violence against women and is criminalised under the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention. The Convention is signed by all EU Member States and 21 Member States so far have ratified it. In June 2017, the EU signed the Convention and aims to ratify it.
The European Union remains committed to the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which addresses female genital mutilation through its Goal number 5 on Gender Equality and specific target 5.3 on the elimination of harmful practices.
In the context of external action and development cooperation, ending FGM has been one of the priority actions under the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2014-2019. This has been followed through with specific actions, for example the Joint Programme on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation, which dedicated €11 million to tackling the practice in 17 partner countries.
For More Information
To find out more about Female Genital Mutilation and what the European Union is doing to eliminate this practice, see the Q&A: