EU Reaffirms Commitment to Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation
The European Commission has reaffirmed its strong commitment to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation worldwide, ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February 2024.
It is estimated that 190,000 girls in 17 European countries alone are at risk of being mutilated while 600,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM in Europe. Every year at least 20,000 women and girls are coming to Europe from FGM-risk countries as asylum seekers.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) 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 Organization. It is a form of violence against women and girls and has severe life-long physical and psychological consequences.
A statement today from the EU Commission says, ‘Last year, the European Union ratified the Istanbul Convention. This is a crucial step underlining violence against women as a human rights violation. Another important step will be to enshrine the effective criminalisation of Female Genital Mutilation in EU law. We are working on these rules and they will be part of a broader legal framework to combat all forms of violence against women. In our proposal to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence we suggest to specifically criminalise Female Genital Mutilation as a self-standing offence. The proposal is currently under negotiations. We are also preparing a recommendation on how to prevent harmful practices against women and girls in the first place. In Europe and across the world, women and girls need to be free from Female Genital Mutilation and all other forms of violence.’
Criminalisation of FGM is required under the Council of European Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (“the Istanbul Convention”). The Convention was signed by all EU Member States and has been ratified by 22 Member States so far. The Convention entered into force for the EU on 1 October 2023. With this accession, the EU is bound by and comprehensive standards to prevent and combat violence against women in the areas of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, asylum and non-refoulement, and its public administration.
In March 2022, the Commission put forward a proposal to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, which specifically criminalises FGM as a self-standing offence. The proposal is currently under negotiations. The Commission will also soon adopt a specific Recommendation on preventing and combating harmful practices against women and girls, including FGM, in 2024. This would include specific suggested actions directed at Member States and additional and specialised support for the protection of victims of harmful practices such as FGM.