NETHERLANDS: Dutch Government: "Say No To Female Genital Mutilation"

The Dutch government has launched a national campaign against female genital mutilation, “Say no to FGM”.

Also known as female circumcision, FGM was relatively unknown in Europe before its introduction by migrant communities. It is a practise in which external female genital organs are either altered, injured, or removed, for reasons related to culture, religion, or both.

According to the World Health Organisation, about three million girls risk being submitted to this procedure every year in Africa. FGM can cause severe bleeding, and later complications in childbirth.

Better statistics in Africa

Speaking to national and international experts in The Hague on Wednesday, Dutch Deputy Health Minister, Jet Bussemaker, said that her government had no reliable statistics on the prevalence or FGM in the Netherlands.

 It is known to be widespread in the Somali community, one of the largest migrant groups in The Netherlands.

“We know that 97% of women in Somalia have been genitally mutilated, she said. “But does this also mean that 97% of the Somali women living in the Netherlands are affected by this practice? Hard figures are not available.” Dutch obstetricians have reported that around 40 percent of women from countries where FGM is practised have been genitally mutilated.

African countries, she added, have a clearer picture of the situation (see table below) with more reliable statistics.

Reverse development cooperation

The “ Say no to FGM” campaign will widen the approach that the government believes has been successful in pilot programmes in six  Dutch cities. It involves informing health professionals and targeting groups and families that are at risk. FGM is illegal in the Netherlands and subject to criminal prosecution.

Ms. Zahra Naleie, from the Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands, said at the conference that as a result of this concerted approach, the problem of FGM is now being discussed openly within the African community. The practice has also been explicitly condemned by community leaders.

Ms. Bussemaker and  Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation Bert Koenders intend to visit African countries in 2010 in order to learn from successful campaigns to combat female circumcisions on the continent.

FGM Prevalence & Legislation

Prevalence in % Legislation Observations
Benin 17(2001 DHS) 2003 An exciser jailed
B. Faso 73 (2006 MICS) 1996 Law is effective
CAR 26 (2005 MICS) 1996 No enforcement
Chad 45 (2004 DHS) 2002 No enforcement
C. d’Ivoire 36 ( 2006 DHS) 1998 4 excisers jailed in 2000
Djibouti 93 (MIC 2006) 1995 No arrests
Egypt 96 (2006 DHS) 1996 decree;1998 p. Code Dr. arrested in 2008
Eritrea 89 - (2002 DHS) 2007 No arrests
Ethiopia 74 – 2005 (DHS) 56 (NC) 2005 No arrests
Gambia 78%2006 MICS None None
Ghana 4%  2005 DHS 1994 & 2007 Excisers jailed
Guinea 96% 2005 DHS 2000 No arrests
G. Bissau   None None
Kenya 32% 2005 DHS 2001 Some persecutions
Liberia 58% 2006 CSAI None None
Mali 85% None None
Mauritania 72%MICS 2007 None None
Niger 2% 2006 DHS 2003 No arrests
Nigeria 19% 2003 DHS State law in 1999 No arrests
Uganda 1% 2006 DHS None None
Senegal 28% 2005 DHS 1999 No arrests
S. Leone 94% 2006 MICS None None
Somalia 98% 2006 MICS  None None
Tanzania 14%  CSAD 1998 52 prosecutions
Togo 6% 2005 MICS 1998 1 arrest in 2000

Data Source : Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)

Click here to learn more about FGM.

SOURCE: Radio Netherland

AUTHOR: Hélène Michaud

URL: Click here

DATE: 03/12/2009

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