5 February 2019
More funding for medical research and an increase in preventative measures were cited as two key factors in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) at a hearing on the issue organised today by ECR Flemish MEP, Anneleen Van Bossuyt, to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
Referring to the Belgian situation with fellow N-VA member, Assita Kanko, who is herself a survivor of FGM, Van Bossuyt explained that an estimated 200 million women worldwide are victims of the practice. In Belgium alone, 4000 girls are at risk of falling victim to FGM.
Together, the two Flemish politicians warned that the practice is becoming an increasingly European problem: “An estimated half a million women living in the European Union, are either victims of FGM at risk of becoming victims. It is no longer a purely African problem. We Europeans cannot ignore the risk of FGM.”
Speaking ahead of the event, Mrs. Van Bossuyt said: “Prevention is the most important step. More than 90% of these girls become victims of FGM before the age of 15. Teachers, social workers, doctors, and border officials can play a crucial role in preventing this from occurring. When young girls travel to countries presenting a high risk of FGM, this must sound an alarm, prompting a conversation with families. It is often during these trips that the practice occurs. Given the increasing instances of FGM right here in the European Union, we also need to put in place preventative EU measures to protect girls from the practice.”
Mrs. Van Bossuyt argues for more European support for victims and for doctors who possess the medical knowledge to reverse the effects of FGM through surgical intervention. The Flemish MEP cited budgetary proposals she made which would provide greater funding for research and development in the field of medicine. She added that: “In the European Union, we have the resources to find medical solutions to reverse the effects of FGM, so let us use them.”
The Flemish MEP now calls on the European Commission to make fighting female genital mutilation a key policy theme in the next mandate. “It is a problem that must not only be tackled at the level of development cooperation, but also at the European level, and thus requires more attention”, she concluded.
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