Today, 14 June, the European Parliament called on the United Nations to officially ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) once and for all. The joint resolution passed with an overwhelming majority.
According to MEP Michael Cashman: “Female Genital Mutilation is an internationally recognized abuse of human rights, child rights, and women’s rights, but it can only be addressed if we recognize the holistic rights of women. And, yes, that is including sexual health and reproductive rights. The right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body.”
The number of women and girls in Europe affected by this horrific practice are quite high. At least 500.000 women and girls living in Europe have undergone the practice of FGM. An additional 180.000 are at risk.
Despite the well-known detrimental physical and mental consequences of FGM, it is a practice that is sustained by tradition and performed for purely non-medical reasons. It is an extreme form of gender discrimination.
The EP is urging the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution at its 67th session, which starts in September, to officially ban FGM worldwide. The African Union requested this initiative at the summit on 2 July 2011.
The goal is to harmonize the Member States’ actions and to provide effective guidelines for the development of legal instruments and frameworks at the regional and international level.
Amnesty International started its action against FGM earlier this year. Their END FGM European Campaign launched an ART FOR ACTION tour, which is supported by over 42,000 activists and four international artists.
Amnesty’s ART FOR ACTION tour began in Cyprus on 5 March 2012 and will arrive in Brussels at the end of this year. In its exhibition, Amnesty International displays rose petals signed by the activists and creatively transformed into pieces of art in order to urge the EU to fulfill its commitments.
According to Dr. Christine Loudes, Director of the END FGM European Campaign: “Each art piece, a different representation of the people’s demands, is a reminder to Europe to deliver on its promises. By bringing artists and activists together we are challenging our decision makers to be creative in their solutions to bring female genital mutilation to an end.”
Amnesty International reacted very positively to the EP’s push to end FGM.
“Empowerment of women and girls requires effective long term engagement of
the EU, not only in words, but in action. I hope that this show of
commitment will be translated into action before more girls and women are
exposed to this human rights violation”, concluded Dr Christine Loudes,