The first clinic in Europe specialized in providing treatment to women subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) opened doors in the German capital Berlin on Wednesday.
Local media reported that the patron of the project for the Desert Flower Center is Waris Dirie, the Somalia-born former supermodel and one-time Bond girl who has become one of the world’s most prominent campaigners against FGM.
Female genital mutilation is widely considered as a human rights violation of worldwide concern. It has been defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
This procedure was found to have no health benefits, but to cause only harm to women and girls. FGM is practiced mainly in the Horn of eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Nevertheless, Europe is not immune either- an estimated 500,000 women and girls live with the lifelong consequences of female genital mutilation on the European continent.
Moreover, it has been estimated that three million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation annually, while in Europe their number is estimated to reach 180,000. Experts say that around 50,000 women in Germany are affected by FGM and some 20,000 of them are in Berlin.
“All victims of FGM who wish to receive psychological and physical treatment deserve free access to surgery and psychological counseling. This is an important step toward a self-determined and free life,” Dirie told Spiegel Online. She added that the plan is to open Desert Flower Centers all over Africa and worldwide.
Managing director Bernd Quoss told the German press that the first two patients will be admitted this week. Treatment of women and girls who have been through FGM will be paid for either by health insurance or, in the case of those without such, by the Desert Flower foundation.
The newly opened clinic will also focus on education with one of the main goals being training of medical staff from Africa.