Amnesty International campaign: new European Gender Equality Strategy must actively engage women
Amnesty International’s European Campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) commends the European Commission for presenting an action-oriented strategy to combat violence against women in its strategy to promote gender equality.
The five year strategy for equality between women and men, announced by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding earlier this afternoon, recognises the need for an EU wide strategy to combat violence against women and in particular, female genital mutilation.
The focus on female genital mutilation is crucial as it is a specific form of traditional practice that can no longer be ignored. 500,000 women are estimated to be living in Europe with the painful after-effects of this practice which attempts to control women’s sexuality. Furthermore, the absence of a comprehensive strategy against this practice is endangering more and more girls each day.
The Commission must ensure that its proposal of a strategy and awareness-raising campaign must not be limited to criminalisation of the practice. Any strategy to combat FGM must be holistic, participatory and non-stigmatizing. Furthermore, the successful implementation of the strategy relies on incorporation of the voices of women who have experienced violence.
“For too long, women have been at the receiving end of social policies. This strategy is a definite step in the right direction. However, the next step is to learn from the experiences of the affected women and incorporate them into the implementation process”, says Dr Christine Loudes, Campaign Director, END FGM European Campaign, run by Amnesty International.
END FGM European Campaign also welcomes the proposals within this strategy to promote gender mainstreaming in EU health policies as well as in the area of asylum. This will greatly benefit women and girls affected by FGM who have specific health consequences that are either not easily identified or dealt with in a sensitive manner by health professionals due to lack of training and protocol. In relation to asylum legislation, efforts to mainstream gender must ensure that FGM is recognised as a gender specific and child specific persecution.
Female genital mutilation is a discriminatory practice and a human rights violation in which part or all of the genitals of young girls generally below 15 years are pricked, cut or removed, usually without anaesthesia. The consequences include, but are not limited to, increased risks of HIV and infertility, chronic urinary and menstrual problems and complications during childbirth. FGM is a form of violence against women and is recognised internationally as a human rights violation.
END FGM European Campaign aims to put female genital mutilation on the political agenda in Europe and to echo the voices of women and girls who have subjected to, or are at risk of, FGM. For more information, go to: www.endfgm.eu
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact: Prerna Humpal, Media Officer, END FGM European Campaign, Amnesty International European Institutions Office, Brussel