On January 19, 2021, the first meeting of the temporary working group on prevention and intervention in cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early/forced marriage (EFM) took place in Berlin. TERRE DES FEMMES initiated this working group within the framework of the EU project "CHAIN". The aim of the working group is to develop and adopt intervention chains for FGM/EFM cases together with relevant stakeholders in Berlin. These intervention chains will then be presented at a national conference and can thus be adapted by other federal states. The intervention chains are intended to ensure coordinated, effective protection of girls at risk.
The goal of the kick-off meeting was to share information about needs, existing services, and gaps and challenges in identifying and intervening in cases of female genital mutilation and early/forced marriage in Berlin. The results form the basis for a first draft of the intervention chains.
The event took place online due to the current situation. In addition to the TDF speakers Charlotte Weil and Carolin Pranz, representatives of the Youth Welfare Office, the police, specialized counseling centers and women's shelters, the Berlin FGM_C Coordination Office, the Senate Department for Health, Care and Equality, the school psychology and inclusive education counseling and support centers, a legal expert specializing in FGM, and representatives of the affected communities participated.
Context analysis: needs, propositions and gaps
In addition to a general introduction to the topics of FGM and EFM, the Community Trainers Fatou Mandiang Diatta and Isatou Barry presented the situation of the communities in Berlin with regard to FGM/EFM as well as needs and difficulties for girls and women affected and threatened by FGM/EFM and identified gaps in the support system. Finally, based on a case study, a context analysis was carried out, which steps can/must be taken in a suspected case, which actors and propositions exist and what is missing.
Thus, everyone agreed that an interdisciplinary, rights-based approach must be taken in developing intervention chains that addresses the issues of FGM/EFM in a culturally sensitive manner. In doing so, it is important to involve parents - but this requires trained cultural mediators.
Various steps, such as involving specialized counseling centers, the youth welfare office and also the police, were discussed and considered as to how cooperation can be better organized.
At the same time, the experiences of both the communities and the various stakeholders show that there is often a lack of trust in the institutions of the youth welfare office and the police. Here, communication and information about the different areas of work of the institutions must be improved, both in the communities and, for example, among pedagogical specialists.
During the entire discussion, it became clear that effective case management can only be ensured in cooperation with the affected communities.
Furthermore, already existing instructions for action were presented and discussed. However, these are often not applied in practice. It is therefore not enough to put them in writing, but additional training of the relevant professionals is required. This is also where TERRE DES FEMMES comes in. After the adoption of the intervention chains, in the summer of 2021 TDF will offer trainings for professionals from the social, educational and health sectors, which will be conducted by Community Trainers. This is to ensure that the relevant professional groups are not only aware of the intervention chains, but are also able to implement them in cases of female genital mutilation or early/forced marriage and thus effectively protect girls.
The meeting was a successful start with a very fruitful exchange and TDF thanks all participants for the valuable inputs! The next meeting of the working group is expected to take place in March 2021.