By Nomazulu Thata | How many young lives must be lost before we acknowledge the profound evil of female genital mutilation (FGM) among African girls? FGM is a grim reality that begins in infancy, affecting countless girls both in Africa and Europe. This clandestine and lucrative trade is a criminal offense in Europe and some African nations. Yet, it persists, even evolving to evade detection.
Origins of FGM in African Communities:
The origins of female genital cutting remain unclear. Some suggest it dates back to ancient Egypt (now Sudan) and the Middle East, brought to the African continent through Arab slave trade and the spread of Islam. Today, this practice is deeply ingrained in Sub-Saharan African communities. Shockingly, nine out of ten women in Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali have undergone FGM. Approximately 30 African countries still engage in FGM practices, and it’s not limited to Sahel regions.
The Persistence of FGM:
Prominent advocate Fadumo Korn of Munich asserts that FGM has persisted for approximately 5000 years. Its eradication demands global efforts from both African and European stakeholders. Sadly, the continuity of FGM is driven by the very mothers perpetuating this tradition and the determination of experienced “grandmothers” who profit from it. These “grandmothers” are even covertly sent as tourists to European countries to perform FGM on girls brought from across Europe.
The Cultural Justification:
In African societies, FGM is primarily employed to control female sexuality. Uncut women are unjustly stigmatized as dishonorable, akin to prostitutes. This practice has evolved into a deeply entrenched cultural norm, signifying a girl’s beauty and cleanliness. The consequences of FGM include chronic pain, excessive bleeding, infections, infertility, psychological trauma, and even higher risks during childbirth.
UN-Women condemns FGM as one of the most vicious manifestations of patriarchy. It violates fundamental human rights and inflicts lifelong physical and mental harm on women and girls. African countries are signatories to international conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and CEDAW, which expressly forbid FGM.
Challenges in Eradicating FGM:
Despite global condemnation, FGM continues unabated in many African societies. The practice is upheld by influential older women and faces political obstacles. Even female politicians who openly denounce FGM fear losing elections. Women’s organizations fighting against FGM often struggle to secure the necessary resources. The culture of silence further complicates efforts, as FGM is shrouded in secrecy.
FGM in Europe:
In Europe, some African women seek asylum to protect their daughters from FGM in their home countries. While FGM is illegal in Europe, clandestine clinical procedures persist due to the allure of financial gain. Some girls, not from wealthy families, are cut by grandmothers using non-clinical methods, leading to infections and even death.
Legal Protections and the Role of DieM 25:
European Union (EU) member states have laws against FGM, but the legal consequences need to be clearly outlined to deter potential perpetrators. Criminal syndicates involved in cross-border FGM must face justice. DieM 25, as a political movement, can play a significant role in raising awareness and advocating for the protection of African girls in the EU.
In conclusion, the fight against FGM requires a united, global effort. By shedding light on this issue and actively pursuing legal measures, we can hope to eradicate this cruel practice and protect the rights and well-being of African girls living in Europe. DieM 25, with its political platform, has a crucial role to play in this vital mission..