Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council - Towards the elimination of female genital mutilation

COM (2013) 833
25/11/2013

1. INTRODUCTION

Every year, millions of women and girls worldwide have their quality of life drastically altered by female genital mutilation (FGM). The procedure involves partial or total removal of their external genitalia or other injury to their genital organs for non-medical reasons. Thousands of women and girls living in Europe are affected or at risk.

FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of women’s human rights and a form of child abuse. In common with other forms of gender-based violence, ‘it constitutes a breach of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, nondiscrimination and physical and mental integrity. It also violates the rights of the child as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Throughout the world, calls for an end to FGM are gaining strength. Under the leadership of the African group and with strong EU support, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) adopted a landmark Resolution in 2012: ‘Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations. A follow-up declaration by the African group in the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013, supported by EU Member States, focuses on the challenges the world community needs to address to achieve zero tolerance for FGM.
Moreover, the monitoring of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment pays special attention to FGM. 

Fundamental rights and gender equality are core values of the European Union. The EU has long been committed to eliminating gender-based violence and violence against children, as stated in its 'Strategy for equality between women and men, in the Directive on the rights of victims and in the EU Agenda for the rights of the child.

This Commission Communication on FGM builds on work the EU has done over many years and on a report from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). It also benefits from the input of a High-Level Round-Table on FGM, contributions from civil society, international organisations, academics and equality bodies to a public consultation and a written opinion of the EU Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. This Communication covers internal as well as external policies and develops a
holistic, integrated approach, with particular emphasis on prevention.