Since the founding in 1981, members of TERRE DES FEMMES have been active against female genital mutilation. The women organised seminars, invited guests from African countries and supported African women´s rights organisations. By doing this, TERRE DES FEMMES has repeatedly been accused of racism and interference with other cultures. However, we have always distanced ourselves from such accusations, as the dignity of a woman does not differ from one culture to another or from country to country. Human rights apply to all women and girls, no matter where they live.
From the first awareness-raising work against FGM on a purely voluntary basis in the 1980´s, the work group against FGM, a coalition of dedicated women from across Germany, arose in 1995. Since 1997, there is a full-time department fighting FGM in the TERRE DES FEMMES’ headquarters, first in Tübingen, then in Berlin.
It is our concern to end this form of gender-specific violence together with survivors and dedicated activists.
Every 11 seconds, a forcible cut decides how the life of girls all over the world will continue.
Under unhygienic conditions and without anaesthesia, the clitoris and labia of women and young girls are being cut off. Many do not survive this ordeal. Those who survive suffer from the consequences for the rest of their lives: chronic pain, infections, infertility and aggravated births are only some of the grave consequences this human rights violation can have. Psychological problems like traumata and depressions can also arise as a result of the procedure.
Worldwide, there are at least 200 Million affected women and girls
We estimate that currently more than 48.000 women affected by FGM live in Germany, and more than 9.500 are currently endangered by FGM. As long as FGM is considered a prerequisite for marriage, parents continue to get their daughters mutilated. Also in Germany, girls risk being cut in secret in the country or taken back to their country of origin and mutilated there. In order to offer better protection for endangered girls and provide better support for the affected, TERRE DES FEMMES is committed to realise the following:
- To make education about FGM a part of the qualification of medical doctors, midwives, pre-school- and schoolteachers.
- To open more counselling centres for affected women and their families.
- To make sure that all children take part in the mandatory medical check-up
TERRE DES FEMMES is the coordinator of CHANGE PLUS, a project aiming at ending female genital mutilation in practising communities in the EU!
Following the estimations of the European parliament, about 500.000 girls and women affected by FGM currently live in the EU, and another 180.000 are endangered by it. The new CHANGE Plus project, which aims at ending FGM in the EU started on 15th January 2016, also due to TERRE DES FEMMES’ initiative!
Co-financed by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union, TERRE DES FEMMES is, together with Plan Stiftungszentrum (Plan) in Hamburg, Federatie van Somalische Associaties Nederland (FSAN) in Holland, Associaçao para o Planeamento da Familia (APF) in Portugal, Équilibres & Populations (Équipop) in France, Associazone Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo (AIDOS) in Italy, Coventry University in London and the Europe-wide network End FGM, committed to end FGM in practising communities throughout the EU. TERRE DES FEMMES coordinates the project and also trains key persons of the Berlin communities to act as multipliers.
Understanding and reaching the communities
Ending FGM depends on whether African communities are ready for change. Coventry University investigates whether this is the case together with Plan with its Community Readiness Index, which was developed for this purpose. The selected communities are the core of the whole project – the training of so-called CHANGE Agents. These agents will afterwards return to their respective communities and initiate change there.
The project partners select 6-12 committed members of African communities, who will receive an intensive training on all aspects of FGM for one year. Thereafter, they will educate their communities about the legal, cultural, religious, social and medical dimensions of FGM and so encourage a change of behaviour. By also sensitising influential community members as well as cultural and religious institutions about the subject, lasting change is supposed to be accomplished.
TERRE DES FEMMES also trains 6 CHANGE Agents from African communities in Berlin.
Extension to the political and institutional level
Beside the community work, the CHANGE Plus project also focuses on networking on the political and institutional level. Thus, selected CHANGE Agents from the predecessor project CHANGE will undergo a leadership training that will qualify them to become so-called CHANGE Champions. These will act as mentors for the new Agents on the one hand as well as network and engage in dialogues with professionals and politicians on local and national levels on the other hand. In this way, the interests of the communities can be taken into account during the political process and as a result, conditions can be created which can better help to protect endangered girls and women in the EU.