Utrecht, the Netherlands – AWEPA attended a conference on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) on 6 February 2014 in Utrecht. This event was organised by Platform 6/2, with members of various civil society organisations including AWEPA, Plan Nederland, Pharos, Defence for Children, Vluchtelingen-Organisaties Nederland (VON) and Federation of Somalian Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN). Since 2011, AWEPA has been working to spur the role of legislators in putting an end to the practice in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and in Europe.
The conference focused on the medical and psychosocial care for circumcised women, facts and figures about FGM/C and research on the usability of international approaches to abandon FGM/C in the Netherlands and Europe. Ms. Rukio Omer, representative of FSAN, discussed the international youth involvement in FGM/C and FSAN’s European project “Create YouthNet”. She emphasized the importance of empowering women and girls to speak out against FGM/C and to seek help if they are suffering from its consequences.
Afterwards, representatives from the Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands and from Pharos, respectively Ms. Nur Albayrak and Ms. Diede Sterenborg, discussed the newly revised Declaration against Female Genital Mutilation, a document with information on the law against FGM/C in the Netherlands that is intended to support parents of girls from risk countries against family pressure. Ms. Marisa Abdulgani, representative of the Haga Hospital in The Hague, and Ms. Tosca Hummeling, representing Public Health and Safety in the Netherlands (formerly GGD Netherlands), shared their experience on the medical and psychosocial care for circumcised women in the Netherlands. They pointed out the current availability of tailored medical consultation hours in seven pilot regions in the Netherlands for women suffering the consequences of FGM/C. The presenters and several other participants took the opportunity to thank the many key figures from FGM/C practicing communities in the Netherlands who have worked hard to support circumcised women and refer them to the medical consultation hours with their complications.
Lastly, participants received information on the first large-scale study of FGM/C in Somalia by Ms. Sylvana Rikkert, researcher at Hirda, a Dutch based NGO formed by Somali diaspora. She presented the results of her research Female circumcision in Somalia. Current understanding of the practice and analysis of the impact of projects aimed at the prevention of circumcision (2014). Furthermore, she spoke about the existing stigma on uncircumcised women in Somalia and how this greatly affects their social life and sometimes causes social exclusion from their society. The main conclusion of her research is that individuals seldom choose to abandon the traditional practice of FGM/C, as it has to come from the community as a whole. Participants agreed and highlighted the need for further research and discussions in order to strategize a way to mobilise communities in abandoning FGM/C .
Resources (in Dutch)
- Vrouwenbesnijdenis komt wereldwijd veel vaker voor (Volkskrant, 6/2/2014)
- ‘Nederlandse meisjes worden ook besneden’ (Telegraaf tv, 6/2/2014, vanaf 00.40 sec.)