Members of the European Parliament have called on the United Nations to put a definitive end to the cruel and degrading practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), reaffirming its strong condemnation of FGM as a violation of the human rights of women and girls across the world .
Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has welcomed the outcome of today’s vote in Strasbourg, which explicitly asks the UN General Assembly to pass a motion banning FGM at its forthcoming 67th session in New York. It is estimated that some 140 million women and girls alive today have suffered from this irreparable abuse, with a further three million girls at risk each year.
A worldwide ban, adopted by the UN, would help to shift societal views on FGM from a ‘public health’ or ‘cultural’ problem, to the universal recognition of its true nature as a human rights violation and a form of violence against women. In addition, it is hoped that an international ban would give new impetus to efforts to improve national laws on FGM, banning the practice where they exist, or adopting new, comprehensive laws where they do not.
In Europe, over 500,000 women and girls are living with the painful and traumatic implications of FMG; a conservative estimate as there is currently no data collection on FGM which would allow for comparison or an assessment of the magnitude of the problem. Today’s resolution passed by the Parliament urges the European Commission to step up action on FGM through an inclusive EU-wide strategy to end violence against women. MEPs have also demanded that EU Member States take firm action to combat the illegal practice wherever it occurs.
Jean, a member of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee and co-signatory of today’s resolution, said: “Female genital mutilation is an act of physical, psychological and emotional abuse that affects hundreds of thousands of women and girls each and every day; women who are often forced to suffer in silence through fear and shame. Many women never fully recover from this violent practice, which is frequently performed against their will, and are instead consigned to a life of pain and traumatic flashbacks.
“We must be clear – FGM is a form of gender based violence and an expression of unequal power relations. This violation cannot be justified by respect for cultural traditions or initiation ceremonies under any circumstance. I urge the United Nations to listen to the will of the European Parliament and take decisive action to ban FGM outright at its next session, so that all women and girls may experience life free from this heinous abuse.”
Notes to Editor
1. The full text of the joint resolution can be read at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=P7-RC-2012-0304&language=EN
2. In October 2011, Jean successfully added a package of amendments to the Qualifications Directive – one of the EU’s keystone asylum policies – which resulted in greater protection for women seeking refuge from gender related persecution, such as FGM, forced abortion and rape in situations of conflict or war.