European Parliament Passes Resolution Combating Female Genital Mutilation in the European Union
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 11:54 AM

The European Parliament passed a resolution on March 24th, 2009, to fight female genital mutilation (FGM) in the EU. The resolution takes into regard the previous articles, conventions, platforms, resolutions, and declarations defining and protecting human rights and women's rights which have been passed around the world since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 100 and 140 million women and girls have experienced genital mutilation. The United Nations Population Fund and WHO estimate that 2-3 million women are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation each year.

FGM is commonly carried out in at least 28 African countries, as well as some Asian countries and in the Middle East, according to WHO. The resolution states that about 500,000 women have undergone FGM in Europe, mainly in immigrant and refugee families for whom circumcision is a custom to be upheld, even if it requires sending girls back to their native countries to undergo the procedure. The EU believes that cultural traditions or ceremonies of initiation can never be an excuse to practice FGM. The resolution recognizes FGM as a serious problem that causes significant physical and mental damage, and can even be fatal due to complications such as shock, infection, and its effects on pregnancy and childbirth.

FGM is a violation of women's and girl's rights. The resolution "Roundly condemns FGM as a violation of fundamental human rights, as well as a savage breach of integrity and personality of women and girls and therefore considers it to be a serious crime in the eyes of society." The resolution has created a number of detailed provisions for the Member States of the EU to abide by in order to prevent FGM.

Member States and the Commission are called upon in the resolution to create an overall strategy and plan of action to eliminate FGM from the EU. This will be done through laws, prevention systems, education, and data collection on the number of women who have undergone FGM or are at risk of undergoing it. The resolution states that all forms of FGM are a crime and those who have committed FGM must be prosecuted.

Compiled from: European Parliament resolution of 24 March 2009 on combating female genital mutilation in the EU (2008/2071(INI)), European Parliament, (27 May 2009).