Belgium – On the International Zero Tolerance Day to FGM/C, AWEPA’s Political Coordinator for the FGM/C programme, Senator and Chair of Women and Society, Hon. Els Van Hoof, raised the issue of the increased number of victims of FGM/C in Belgium with the Belgian Minister of Health. The country has seen a dramatic increase in presumed victims from approximately 6,000 in 2007 to more than 13,000 in 2012. According to researchers, this increase is a result of foreign nationals immigrating to Belgium from countries where FGM/C is practiced. Since 1 March 2014, Belgium has opened two multidisciplinary treatment centers for mutilated women, namely in the Ghent and Sint-Pieter University Hospitals. Senator Van Hoof noted that this was a step in the right direction, though the approach toward FGM/C may be too fragmented in Belgium. She also noted that Belgium is lacking a coordinated approach aimed at behaviour change, prevention and prosecution, which could be instrumental in yielding positive results.
In July 2013, Hon. Van Hoof drafted a bill to expand the current Belgian law on FGM/C. According to the current Belgian law, only the implementers of FGM/C are punished, although there are individuals actively promoting and facilitating FGM/C. This Bill, which would make it possible also to prosecute the promoters of FGM/C, is currently under discussion in the Belgian Senate. Ms. van Hoof noted that FGM/C is exported by means of migratory movement, and consequently, its effect transcends national borders; therefore, along with a clear and coordinated approach in Belgium, a European-wide strategy is also desirable.