'Prevention must lie at the heart of the fight against female genital mutilation'

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) believes that prevention must lie “at the heart of all efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation” and must involve all the players concerned, whether the communities that practise it, grass roots organisations, social and education services, the police, the justice system or healthcare professionals.

Adopting a draft resolution based on the report by Béatrice Fresko-Rolfo (Monaco, EPP/CD), the members of the Assembly stressed that “awareness-raising, information and education campaigns must include both women and men in the communities concerned and must dissociate these practices from religion, gender stereotypes and the cultural beliefs which perpetuate discrimination against women.”

The draft text, to be put to the vote at the forthcoming PACE plenary meeting in Strasbourg (10-14 October 2016), calls for female genital mutilation to be recognised as violence against women and children, extraterritorial jurisdiction for domestic courts so that criminal prosecutions can be initiated when mutilation has been committed abroad, and public awareness-raising and information campaigns to combat this phenomenon.

As of 2016, some 200 million women and girls in the world have undergone genital mutilation. These practices take place primarily in certain countries of Africa and Asia, but they also occur in Europe. Despite growing international awareness of the seriousness of the problem, such mutilations persist and remain rooted in the cultures and traditions of the communities that practise them.