In a European Parliament plenary debate to mark the 10th International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM), three GUE/NGL MEPs have spoken out against the barbaric procedure.

Portuguese MEP Inês Zuber, who authored a parliamentary question on the matter, said: “FGM is one of the worst forms of violence against women which gives rise to long- and short-term health problems, and has a devastating effect on the sexual and reproductive health of hundreds of thousands of women around the world.

“The European Commission must take specific action at the European level to put an end to all forms of violence against women and girls, including FGM. A wide-ranging directive would be an important step forward. We must define specific political commitments for the eradication of FGM, as part of a global focus on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women. We also need awareness raising measures in communities where these crimes take place.

She added: “Women's rights questions should not always be left in the background without receiving the focus they deserve. If we are to move in the direction of social progress we cannot allow the numbers of women being affected by FGM to keep rising.”

Irish MEP Martina Anderson said: “Thousands of girls and women across Europe are at risk of undergoing FGM, either illegally in Europe, or by being brought back to their parents' country of origin. This is without doubt a barbaric and archaic practice that needs to stop. Many people who are forced to undergo this procedure bleed to death or die of infections from being cut with dirty utensils. The practice causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences including difficulties in childbirth. FGM is an abuse of the human rights of girls and women and reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme violation of the rights of children.

“Successive Council presidencies have failed to make this a priority. I am glad that the UN General Assembly in December 2012 accepted a resolution on FGM and I while I welcome that the EP has already passed a resolution and that we are discussing this here today, we need to do much, much more.”

Irish MEP Paul Murphy commented: “FGM is a manifestation of oppression against women, and is a way of denying women sexual pleasure. The EU has a responsibility here. Every year an estimated 20,000 women flee these practices by seeking asylum in the EU. About 9000 of them flee having been cut themselves. The rest flee in order to protect their children. Reports from victims illustrate that they are often met with disbelief and scepticism and a lack of knowledge about this practice. Activists have also raised the issue of member states that have deported women back to countries where they are at risk of FGM. This is another dark black stain on Europe's immigration policies.

“Member states have an obligation to protect women and girls who are trying to escape FGM. In many countries where FGM persists the practice is illegal which goes to show that more than laws are needed: investment in publicly-owned free healthcare systems that guarantee full sexual and reproductive rights to women, that lower the dependence on traditional circumcisers who often also play a role as midwives in the community, ending the economic dependency of women through establishing a living wage; full employment; and a full programme of education.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group

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