TERRE DES FEMMES’ commitment
Since 1983, the association has dedicated itself substantially as well as financially towards achieving the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM). Since 1995, a voluntary focus group exists, and since 1998, a department concerning itself with FGM is present in the TERRE DES FEMMES headquarters.
In Germany, the respective department specialists have conducted studies among doctors and development workers, offered trainings for professionals, and generated public attention by campaigns like “Kein Schnitt ins Leben” (No Cut into Life) and “STOP FGM NOW”. Through the publication of the brochure “Wir schützen unsere Töchter” (“We protect our daughters”, available in seven languages), TERRE DES FEMMES has also shed light on prevention measures, legal status and dangers of the practice. The brochure was created both for families potentially supporting FGM as well as personnel coming into contact with them, for instance those in pedagogical, medical and social professions. Through publications, activities (petitions, conferences, film funding) and projects (f.i. CHANGE and CHANGE Plus, funded by the European Union), TERRE DES FEMMES contributed and still contributes in a substantial way to making basic facts about female genital mutilation known to the general public in Germany.
TERRE DES FEMMES’ demands for counselling centres for the affected, the tolling of the limitation period until the victim is of legal age, gender-specific asylum if threatened by FGM/C, the taking over of costs for reconstructive surgery by health insurances and not least the law against female genital mutilation (§226a StGB) were met.
Networks in Germany and the EU
Besides TERRE DES FEMMES, many other NGO´s, federal institutions and international networks dedicate themselves to the abolition of female genital mutilation. In Germany, the network Integra is active. Its member organisations are active in the fields of counselling, public relations, lobbying, with projects in foreign countries, through studies and the exchange of knowledge. Recently, Integra has conducted a qualitative study for the German Ministry of Family Affairs (BMFSFJ) about FGM in African diaspora communities in five big cities in Germany. TERRE DES FEMMES coordinated the study in Berlin. Since 2014, the federal work group (Bund-Länder-NRO AG) against FGM is active again, in which TERRE DES FEMMES also is involved.
TERRE DES FEMMES is also active in European networks against FGM and has been working together with EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality) for many years now, in order to improve knowledge about female genital mutilation in the EU. Since January 2016, TERRE DES FEMMES is a member of the End FGM European Network, a cover organisation consisting of 15 national NGO´s, which is dedicated to realising sustainable measures against FGM.
If it serves a concrete purpose, we also contact the World Health Organisation or the United Nations directly. In this way, we actively contribute towards putting the global problem of FGM also on the global agenda, thus constantly reducing it.
In order to detect danger quickly and protect girls from female genital mutilation as well as to make sure survivors get the understanding, support and concern they deserve, we have created a guide for persons in medical, social and pedagogical professions.
Please also read this guide if you want to prepare for possible contact with endangered people and survivors independently from your profession!
Recognising endangered girls – this list contains indications with which one can justify a suspicion about impending FGM:
- Does the family come from a society that practises FGM?
- Does the family have little contact with mainstream society?
- Is a journey to visit the grandparents planned? Were some kinds of festivities mentioned in this context?
- Does the family lay great value on rites and traditions? Are opposed gender roles being cultivated and do the sons enjoy more freedom than the daughters?
- Has a member of the family expressed itself in a positive manner about FGM or in a negative manner about uncut women?
- Have women of the family been mutilated?
The more questions you can answer with “yes”, the more likely it is that a girl is in concrete danger. If you are unsure if your suspicion justifies taking action, please get in touch with us. Together, we can think about which reaction makes sense and is in the girls’ best interest. If you have a concrete suspicion, talk to your local youth services and demand that a competent employee pay a visit to the family! If you know of an impending genital mutilation, you must contact the police!
If you want to take action against female genital mutilation in your free time, you are more than welcome to join one of our work our city groups. If you don´t have time for this, donations help, so that others can dedicate themselves in your interest.