Shifting Sands

Articles on Shifting Sands

Responding to Female Genital Mutilation in Europe

Published 16 May 2015 Associated Categories The facts
Striking the right balance

This publication results from a common European research project which was carried out between June 2007 and June 2009 by five partners.

This 2009 report is the outcome of a multi-country project, financed by the European Commission’s Daphne programme. The project was preceded by a first one, finalised in 2003. Countries represented in the project were Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH), Ghent University, Belgium, coordinated the initiative that was led by Dr. Els Leye.

In the first project, from January 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004, the European Commission’s Daphne Programme financed a study on legislation regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in fifteen European Member States and the implementation of these laws in Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Legal provisions pertaining to FGM are found in various sources, most frequently in criminal laws and child protection laws. Some countries in Europe have developed specific legislation on FGM, while FGM is prosecutable under the general penal code in others.The research of the first phase showed that the implementation of criminal and child protection laws on FGM is a complex matter. Developing legislation alone is not sufficient. Nor is a specific law more successful in punishing FGM than general criminal law provisions. To be effective, different sectors need to be properly trained for the further implementation of the criminal and child protection laws. The range of professionals involved in this process is numerous: health professionals (paediatricians, gynaecologists, general practition-ers, midwives, nurses, etc.), child protection officers, social services, police officers, immigration services and legal professionals.

In April 2004, the 15 EU Member States were: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.

The project title was “Evaluating the impact of existing legislation in Europe with regard to female genital mutilation”. The report is available here.

Not only does every professional group need training on this topic, the range of sectors need to work together in order to tackle the problem of FGM effectively.

One of the two main barriers for the implementation of legislation is the identification of cases, which is principally obstructed by the lack of knowledge among professionals.

The second important barrier is the complexity of finding sufficient evidence to bring a case to court. A second project was deemed necessary to enhance the implementation of criminal and child protection laws on FGM in the EU, by focusing on the gap in knowledge among professionals. For that reason, the European Commission’s Daphne Programme financed the research project
“Towards an improved enforcement of FGM-legislation in Europe: Dissemination of lessons learned and capacity building of actors in the legal and paralegal field”, which ran from June 2007 to June 2009.

This second phase aimed to tackle the poor implementation of laws by enhancing the capacities of professionals to identify and properly deal with FGM in five EU countries: Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

It effectively put into practice the lessons learned and recommendations of the first phase, a.o. by organising targeted training and information campaigns about FGM issues, legislation and child protection procedures for stakeholders in order to better protect girls from FGM.Through a series of workshops for professionals from various sectors, information and training was provided.

Simultaneously, the workshops gave country-specific feedback on obstacles for implementing the laws. By dis-seminating the results and lessons-learned at the European level through a final conference, practical recom-mendations resulting from these workshops are helpful for other Member States. In addition, this second phase included an updated and extensive review of laws on FGM in all countries of the European Union, including the new member states.The five project partners organised capacity building workshops in their respective countries, and each compiled a national report on their country’s legislation regarding FGM, the outcome of the workshops and the ensuing recommendations.

  This publication comprises the results of the research project
Towards an improved enforcement of FGM-legislation in Europe: Dissemination of lessons learned and capacity building of actors in the legal and paralegal field”. After a brief description in chapter 3 of the project methodology, chapter 4 goes into detail on the legal framework regarding FGM in European countries and contains an overview of the present criminal laws, child protection laws and professional secrecy provisions in Europe.

This publication comprises the results of the research project
Towards an improved enforcement of FGM-legisla-tion in Europe: Dissemination of lessons learned and capacity building of actors in the legal and paralegal field”. After a brief description in
chapter 3 of the project methodology, chapter 4 goes into detail on the legal framework regarding FGM in European countries and contains an overview of the present criminal laws, child protection laws and professional secrecy provisions in Europe.11

A depiction and comparative analysis of the capacity building workshops in the five EU Member States is provided in chapter 5, followed by the introduction and description of the instrument “Country Assessment Tool”, developed in the course of the project, in
chapter 6. Finally, a concise outline of the project conclusions and recommendations for policy advice on law enforce-ment are provided in chapter 7.

Data is based on information from the questionnaires and also directly from stakeholders. It reflects the situation up until June 2009. A depiction and comparative analysis of the capacity building workshops in the five EU Member States is provided in chapter 5, followed by the introduction and description of the instrument “Country Assessment Tool”, developed in the course of the project, in chapter 6.

Finally, a concise outline of the project conclusions and recommendations for policy advice on law enforce-ment are provided in chapter 7.

The remainder of the report can be accessed here.

Promotor: Marleen Temmerman, MD, MPH, PhDCoordinatorICRH – Ghent UniversityDe Pintelaan 185 P39000 Ghent, Belgium
T+32 9 332 35 64
F+32 9 332 38 67
E icrh@ugent.beISBN: 978-90-78128-00-7© International Centre for Reproductive Health – 2009.

Share Button

About the Author -

Offers of relevant material for publication (unpaid) will be considered with interest.

0 comments

Comments are closed.