Netherlands: More immigrants speaking out against FGM
In Austria, 6000-8000 women have undergone FGM. According to Social Democratic MP Petra Bayr efforts by health personnel, migrant organisations and religious leaders are bearing fruit. (EN, via Tundra Tabloids)
A third of circumcised women in the Netherlands suffer from depression, according to a study by Pharos, who for the first time researched the mental, social and relational consequences of circumcision. In total, 66 women were interviewed. Half suffer from anxiety disorder.
Depression wasn't always recognized by the women as such. One reason being that the word 'depression' doesn't appear in the Somali dictionary. The study also shows that women from areas where girls are circumcised, have little knowledge of sexuality. They see sex only as a way of having children. According to the women social workers don't all know about girl
There is no official data, but it is estimated that about 50 women are circumcised in the Netherlanders every years. The study was presented in Rotterdam on Saturday during the international day against FGM. The researchers interviewed women from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.
The study also concluded, based on talks with the women, that immigrants are more easily persuaded into not circumcising their children if they know that it's banned in the country in which they live. Social workers also said that immigrants are more easily ready to swear off FGM if they know there's a prison sentence for it. FGM is punishable in the Netherlands by twelve years in prison.
State Secretary of Public Health Jet Bussemaker (Labor) will introduce a contract in the summer in order to ensure that parents don't take their children aboard to be circumcised. Immigrant parents who travel with their daughter to a risk-country could sign the contract voluntarily.
Marja Exterkate of Pharos says that more and more immigrants, both men and women, from African countries are speaking out openly against FGM. The informational policy that the government started several years ago is having a very positive effect.
Since 2006 Pharos has trained more than 60 immigrants to inform their compatriots, for example by house-visits. They do so in six cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Tilburg). Imams are also called in to explain during the meetings that FGM is not prescribed in the Koran. Pharos works closes with immigrant organizations such as the Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN)
"It has an enormous snowball effect," says Exterkate. "Migrants realize that many problems which happen by women in their community have a direct link with the fact that they were circumcised as young girls. Mothers also openly say that they will not have their daughters circumcised anymore."
Sources: Trouw 1, 2; AD (Dutch)