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NORWAY: Politicians Try To 'Do Something' To Stop Female Circumcision

A 24-hour crisis line, an information campaign at the airport, passport denial and planned health screenings of young girls at risk are among steps being taken by Norwegian officials to prevent female genital mutilation.

Norway's center-left government unveiled a list of 14 emergency measures they're putting into place immediately, in an effort to keep girls from being sent out of the country for the procedure many describe as barbaric.

The measures come after state television channel NRK broadcast a shocking report last weekend that nearly 200 girls living in Norway have been sent by their own families to Somalia in recent years, to undergo female circumcision.

The practice is illegal in Norway and the country has had a law for years preventing it. Prosecution has been minimal, however, with only a handful of cases brought to court.

Now officials are trying to crack down and enforce the law. That can include preventing girls at risk from leaving the country, if their families are suspected of sending them abroad to be circumcised.

"Skin color and travel destinations won’t be enough," Justice Minister Knut Storberget of the Labour Party was quick to point out. "The authorities must have concrete suspicions that circumcision is planned, in order for the family to be denied passports."

Storberget promises, tough, "more binding" cooperation between the police and local township officials. The government will also launch a public information campaign in local taxis and on the local public transport system.

A 24-hour phone line is being set up to take calls from potential victims or members of the public wanting to report cases of suspected circumcision. The number is 02800.

Mandatory genital screenings for girls at risk are proposed, but that must be approved by Parliament, which is currently on summer recess.

SOURCE: Aftenposten

AUTHOR: Nina Berglund

URL: Click here

DATE: 30/06/2007

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