News about FGM

News 05/2017-06/2017


#Open Your Eyes: Together against Female Genital Mutilation
TERRE DES FEMMES launches new social media campaign against FGM

On the 7th of May 2017, the “Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy”, TERRE DES FEMMES together with GREY launched a social media campaign in order to raise awareness about FGM. The campaign image displays a closed eye in a vertical perspective, which aims to demonstrate a circumcised vagina. In social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) TERRE DES FEMMES followers and supporters share the animated picture of the closed eye, which reveals its true content: an open eye.

A variety of eye motives have been circulating in several social media platforms. Our CHANGE Agents from the CHANGE PLUS Project also took part in the campaign and provided one of many images. Activists have given interviews for the campaign websites in order to tell the story behind the eyes.

You can visit the campaign website under It gives information about the campaign, activists and an opportunity to donate for the organisations work. In addition, information about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is transmitted. “Open Your Eyes” has the aim to literally open the eyes of the public and to raise awareness about the problem of FGM in as many minds as possible since only together we can overcome the practice of FGM worldwide.

#openyoureyes #eyesonfgm #endfgm #hope #terredesfemmes #womenrights




CHANGE Agent Evariste Kapnang Tchaptchet sensitizes in Refugee Camp against Female Genital Mutilation 

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn Saturday, the 13th of May 2017, our CHANGE Agent Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet from Cameroon organized a behaviour change activity in the refugee camp in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

In order to get in contact with the refugees living in the camp, Evariste organized an afternoon barbecue event. The sunny weather and the invitation for a joint meal attracted many men and women. With the support of his wife Tiranke Diallo and her brother Souleymane Diallo from Guinea, Evarista sensitized and raised awareness about Female Genital Mutilation and its severe consequences and implications.

Dr. Ida Nabateregga from TERRE DES FEMMES was also present at the behaviour change activity and able to talk to social workers in the refugee camp about the professional dealing with women affected with FGM. Furthermore, she presented TERRE DES FEMMES and the activities on FGM as well and distributed our information brochure “We want to protect our girls”, which is available in Arabic, Tigrinya, Somali, Kiswahili, English, French and German.

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESIt is of utmost importance to raise awareness about FGM in refugee camps, even though the topic is not central to many refugees since they have other issues such as dealing with their residence status, work and study permit etc. However, we think the problem of FGM and its clarification is crucial in the integration process of many newly arriving migrants and refugees. In order to successfully provide and guarantee support for girls and women who are endangered or had undergone FGM, protection measures and advisory centres have to be available and communicated. Many newly arriving refugees are hard to reach since they prefer to be around community members rather than exposed directly to the new society. Thus, it is difficult to learn and know about existing and available resources and offers. 

This event on FGM is the second one of our CHANGE Plus Agent Evariste. His first activity took place on the 29th of April, where mainly men and a few women had a lively discussion on FGM.

We thank Evariste for his effort and engagement to sensitize communities about FGM and its implications in order to ensure a long lasting behaviour change within various communities.


May 2017


18th of May: National Day against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Burkina Faso

In addition to the International Day „Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation“ on the 6th of May, Burkina Faso has its nationwide Day against FGM on the 18th of May where the National Commission in the fight against FGM („Commission nationale de lutte contre la pratique del’excision“, CNLPE) celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Worldwide over 200 million girls and women are affected by FGM. In Burkina Faso, according to UNICEF, 76% of all girls and women in the age of 15 until 49 years have undergone FGM. There are four different forms of FGM: Type II, the so-called “Excision”, is the most practiced form of FGM in Burkina Faso. It includes the excision of the outer visible clitoris and the labia minora. The labia majora is sometimes additionally excised. It is also conspicuous that over 50% of girls and women are affected from FGM before they are five years old.  

A variety of ethnic groups live in Burkina Faso. The prevalence rate in some regions is estimated to be over 80% whereas the lowest prevalence rate is 22%, according to the 2013 published UNICEF study. The study refutes the widely believed assumption that Muslim provisions are reasons for female genital mutilation. In fact, 60%-76% of the affected women are affiliated with other religious persuasions than Islam.

Even though the act and assistance of FGM in Burkina Faso is regarded as a criminal offence and punished with three years prison or a 10.000 US Dollar fine, it is still extensively practiced and affects many girls and women.

First Results in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation

The government of Burkina Faso has been trying to abandon FGM for over 30 years. A national Commission for the fight against FGM was established in 1990. The first official law prohibiting FGM was introduced in 1996 and a special secretariat with executive power was established to ensure the effective implementation of the law. Financial, personnel and legal resources have been mobilised in order to obtain the abolishment of the practice in the population. Through the establishment of a hotline, people can report in cases of suspicion or in actual cases of FGM about victims and perpetrators. The government is confident that it will reach the complete abolition of the practice of FGM by 2030.

Through the implemented social and judicial measurements, the government of Burkina Faso hopes to create a framework to effectively prosecute and punish the practicing of FGM. However, the goal to completely eradicate FGM is recognized as a great challenge since it is an old and deep rooted traditional practice.

One of the reasons for the continuation of FGM according to the 2013 UNICEF survey was indicated to be social pressure exercised as well as its effect on the societal acceptance. In addition, 26% of the survey participants mentioned hygienically reasons and purity. This strong and deep rooted tradition is passed on to the next generations and firmly established in the societal structures.

Yet, over the last 30 years a change can be witnessed. This is evident in the data collection of affected women and young girls. In 2010, 88% of women in the age of 45-49 years had undergone FGM. In the age group of 15-19 years 58% were affected. One can see that less children are being affected by FGM and that the numbers are declining. New surveys have also revealed that 90% of women are against the continuation of FGM.


TERRE DES FEMMES has been fighting for over 35 years for the rights of women and the abandonment of FGM. Through educational work and project activities with communities in Germany as well as through international cooperation with women organisations in other countries, we try to actively support and foster change towards the eradication of FGM.

One of our strongest partner organisations is the “Association Bangr Nooma” (ABN), which is effectively active in the fight against FGM in three regions of Burkina Faso.

Rakieta Poyga, who is the head of the organisation, established ABN in 1998. The organisation works in three different regions by sensitizing the population about the negative consequences of FGM. In addition, educational work is carried out in a strong cooperation with village elderlies and multipliers. Bangr Nooma supports former circumcisers and the assistance with microcredits since they lose not only their societal status but also their income for existence. Additionally, Bangr Nooma provides medical examinations.

One big success was the celebration event in 2016 in the village region Toukin. During the ceremonial public event, tools used for the excision were buried and celebrated as a symbol for the eradication of the tradition. Representatives of the Ministry of Family Affairs as well as social authorities like village elderlies and 1.000 guests attended the ceremony. 

Support our work!

In order to foster behavioural change and to effectively stop the harmful traditional practice of FGM much support and help is needed.

If you want to support TERRE DES FEMMES or our project partner Association Bangr Nooma in the fight against FGM, we would be more than thankful about any initiative or donation


May 2017


MAP-FGM Seminar in Brussels for scientific research

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESFrom 8th until 9th of June 2017 the conference of MAP-FGM regarding the topic „Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting at the Intersection of Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Method Research – Experiences from Africa and Europe“ took place in Brussels. TERRE DES FEMMES expert Charlotte Weil participated. The Multisectoral Academic Programme to prevent and combat FGM (MAP FGM) is an innovative project with the aim to educate about FGM in general and dealing with FGM for key professionals in the European Union.

The pluridisciplinary team of professors and researchers developed a training guide, which containes a critical Gender and cultur-sensitive thinking as well as practical recommendations from the work of affected girls and women, their families and key professionals. The conference aimed at discussing the results of research and campaigns to end FGM and developing specific recommendations. Especially NGOs, researchers, activists and members of institutional organizations shall extend their knowledge about FGM with seminars like the MAP-FGM conference.

The participants discussed several topics as the role of research on FGM, the efficacy of interventions to end FGM, the influence of migration on FGM and a possible transfer of social norms and the international human rights framework. Our CHANGE Plus partners from the Coventry University will also hold a seminar on the methodological approach for behavioural change to end FGM. We are happy to participate and internationally work together to end FGM.


June 2017


TERRE DES FEMMES at the Africa KENAKO Festival in Berlin

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESThis year TERRE DES FEMMES took part int the KENAKO Festival at Alexanderplatz in Berlin from 11th till 13th of July 2017 for the first time to present its work and inform about female genital mutilation (FGM). Since the department against FGM works more and more with communities themselves, we were happy to present our work and activites regarding FGM.

From 8th till 18th of June 2017 the KEANKO Africa Festival took place at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. The organizers of the Africa Media Centre provided many different activities for all ages. There were lots of stage events with African artists, manifold activities for children, readings, discussions and film screenings. During the ten days of the festival different booths offered culinary delicacies, arts and crafts from African countries as well as information of local organizations und various inititatives. For more information visit

The KENAKO Festival aims at presenting African cultures and the colourful, crative and inspiring aspects of the African continent. The festival ought to show the lifes of African women and men living in Berlin. During the festival people form all different origins meet and talk to develop mutual respect and understanding for eachother.

The department against female genital mutilation (FGM) at TERRE DES FEMMES got the possibility to connect with different communities and inform about FGM. Therefore, we hope to sensitize more people and engage them in the fight against FGM.


June 2017


Communities from Guinea, Senegal and Ivory Coast in Berlin against female genital mutilation (FGM)

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn Sunday, 25th of of June, the day of the end of Ramadan, CHANGE agent Tiranke Diallo form Guinea of the Mama Africa Association togehter with Senegalese FGM activist and urban soul and hip hop singer Fatou Diatta „Sister Fa“ raised awareness on FGM. On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Sister Fa invited the Westafrican community to her house. Sister Fa and Tiranke Diallo seized the opportunity to talk about FGM and the risks for women and girls with their guests to encourage discussions about the topic.

Many guests gladly engaged themselves in the discussion to share their own experiences and think about strategies to overcome FGM. An interesting exchange between the three communities campe up. Whereas in Senegal and Ivory Coast numbers of FGM decrease, it stays constant in Guinea. With a prevalence rate of more than 80% Guinea is one of the countries, in which FGM is widespread. One of the participants told, that the government in Ivory Coast more and more aimes at ending FGM by passing laws against the practice and enforcing them. Parallel to the engagement of the government people more and more stand against FGM, too.

On the other hand it is even more difficult to end the tradition of FGM in Guinea. Extensive education and sensitization on different levels – including village chiefs, teachers, children, women of every age and men – are needed to abolish this deeply rooted tradition. This often provokes a conflict between generations, as mainly older women and men stick to this social norm, whereas younger ones demand a change.

With the CHANGE Plus Project, which is co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union, TERRE DES FEMMES together with European partner organizations promotes the end of FGM in practicing communities in the EU. Last year our department supervisor Dr. Idah Nabateregga trained key figures as multipliers in Berlin communities. After the multipliers, so called CHANGE Agents, were trained in different aspects regarding FGM, they now implement activities to sensitize their own community. Moreover the CHANGE Agents raise awareness for the topic with the Social Media campaign „Open your eyes“.

TERRE DES FEMMES is immensely grateful for this unique engagement!


June 2017


Training for professional groups in Brandenburg

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn Wednesday, 28th of June 2017, TERRE DES FEMMES FGM expert Dr. Idah Nabateregga conducted a training with professional groups in Bad Freienwalde (Brandenburg) about the topic “Female genital mutilation: Consequences for affected girls and women – medical and psycho-social help”. This training was organized within the project MobileHeimBeratung of the Society for Inclusion and Social Work. The participants work in different fields, in which they get in touch with affected and endangered girls and women. This training dealt with education, prevention and supporting affected women. This sensitive topic requires a professional, adequate handling with affected and endangered girls and women. This can only be guaranteed, if professionals remain attentive and are educated regarding FGM.

TERRE DES FEMMES advocates especially in the area of FGM, that professionals are educated to be able to deal with affected women and effectively protect endangered girls.

Since last year FaZIT Brandenburg (Counselling for migration, integration and tolerance) organizes together with TERRE DES FEMMES trainings regarding FGM for professionals in Brandenburg. The participants are very interested in the topic – a second round of trainings is scheduled.

We are happy about this successful event and thank FaZIT and all particpants for their interest!


June 2017




News 01/2017-04/2017

E-learning platform for female genital mutilation for key professionals now online!

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn the occasion of the “Zero-Tolerance-Day” against female genital mutilation on 6th of February 2017 TERRE DES FEMMES together with the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) organized a symposium, at which among others the webbased platform for key professionals was presented. Moreover activists and members of affected communities took actively part and reported about the current situation and needs in the communities. Participants discussed current issues in small groups.

The e-learning platform has been developed within the project „United to End FGM“, which is co-funded by the EU, together with European partner organizations. The webbased platfrom includes: an e-learning course, wich is available in nine languages, country-specific information for the eleven partner countries as well as interactive additional offers as webinars and an online discussion forum. The e-learning course shall improve the awareness and knowledge about FGM of key professionals from different areas as health, asylum, law and justice, police, education, social services child protection as well as media. The online course also serves for NGOs and especially womens’ rights organizations and shelters, which provide safety and support for affected girls and women.

According to recent estimates of UNICEF more than 200 Million girls and women are affected by female genital mutilaiton (FGM) worldwide, 70 Million more than was estimated in 2014. Due to migration the problem greatly expanded regionally, so that today more than 58.000 affected and 13.000 endangered girls and women are living in Germany (TERRE DES FEMMES 2017). To avert the risk and provide for survivors it is very important to sensitize and educate key professionals, who are in contact with FGM as social workers, gynaecologists, midwives, legal experts, police.

For more information please write to

February 2017



Meeting of the working group „Female genital mutilation (FGM)“ in Berlin

Participants of the Meeting in March 2017. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESParticipants of the Meeting in march 2017. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn 25th and 26th of March 2017 the TERRE DES FEMMES working group „Female genital mutilation“ met for the biannual meeting in Berlin. The experts talked about relevant topics and developed mutual positions.  

TDF expert Charlotte Weil reported about the activities of the department FGM in the offices as well as about the developments of the CHANGE Plus project. She presented the 15 min educational film „Amina“, which was produced within the CHANGE Plus project. Moreover the new INTEGRA study about female genital mutilation in Germany was presented and commented by the members of the working group. The women discussed the term „FGM“ and talked about the debate regarding „medicalisation of FGM“ and medical reconstruction. Further points discussed were FGM as a reason for asylum, the international day for genital self-determination (7th of May) and in this context also the topic male circumcision.

The women of the working group „Female genital mutilation (FGM)“ discussed these topics, outlined mutual positions, ideas for activities and approaches for educational work. At the end of the meeting topics and tasks for the next meeting in autumn were determined.

March 2017



Educational work in Gambian community in Berlin

Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESPhoto: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn 20th of April 2017 our multiplier Isatou Barry organized her first activity within the CHANGE Plus project to end female genital mutilation (FGM). After the multipliers, the so called „CHANGE Agents“, completed an intense training regarding different aspects of FGM last year, they now implement sensitization activities in their own communities.

One week after she gave birth to her son, Isatou Barry invited family, friends and acquaintances to her house. She seized the opportunity with the support of Sister Fa, activist and musician, to encourage a discussion regarding children’s rights and protection. In the course of this discussion she also addressed the topic female genital mutilation (FGM). Isatou Barry and Sister Fa answered many questions, a lively discussion developed, in which especially the men took part in.

When the women talked about their negative experiences with FGM and concrete examples, the men reacted with compassion; even those, who see the practice of FGM as an important measure in a girl’s life. At the same time it became clear, that many people do not know much about the practice. It was new to many attendants, that there are different types of FGM. While in case of Type I only part oft he clitoris is excised, in case of Type III, the „infibulation“, the vagina is sewed up, which can result in severe health issues as well as complications during pregnancy and birth. Many men were surprised. They were grateful to get information about the consequences of the practice for girls and women, since the topic FGM is a taboo topic in many communities.

Some of the attendants changed their mind about FGM at the end of the afternoon and offered to introduce their new knowledge about the topic at other community meetings and to raise awareness about the harmful practice.

April 2017



„We want to protect our girls“ – Education brochure for practicing communities

Brochure FGM 2017The prevention brochure “We want to protect our daughters” includes short and precise information about female genital mutilation and is addressed to people from practicing communities. The brochure is now available in Tigrinya as well as six other languages (German, English, Arabic, French, Somali, Swahili, Tigrinya). Tigrinya is mostly spoken in Eritrea – a country with a prevalence rate of 89%.

The brochure “We want to protect our daughters” includes a definition of the practice of female genital mutilation and information about range and patterns of argument. The wide-ranging consequences for affected girls and women are especially highlighted. It is unambiguously made clear that female genital mutilation is a severe human rights violation and a form of child abuse, which can be punished under criminal law in Germany.

The brochure is written in a clear, understandable language. It is primarily addressed to migrants from practicing communities living in Germany. Endangered girls ought to be protected through education.

“We want to protect our girls” can be ordered in the TERRE DES FEMMES Onlineshop


News 08/2016 – 12/2016

New guideline for key professionals out now!

The brochure “Responding to female genital mutilation: A guide for key professionals” developed during the CHANGE project has been updated during the new CHANGE Plus project and translated into three more languages: French, Italian and Portuguese. The German and Dutch versions were also reprinted for further distribution. Additionally, a EU-wide English version containing a special part about legislation and strategies of the European Union was developed.

The prevention brochure facilitates basic knowledge about FGM and seeks to be a guideline for key professionals from different professional backgrounds to notice acute danger in order to be able to protect girls. In case of suspicions, the brochure gives instructions on how to act upon them. On top of that, the brochure aims at assisting on how to deal with affected women.

The German and English version can be ordered from TERRE DES FEMMES. The brochure can be downloaded for free in all other languages (French, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese) from


First Change Agents training in Berlin

F.l.t.r.: Colette Tchoumbou, Charlotte Weil (Projektmanagerin), Fadhumo Musa, Idah Nabateregga (Community Manager), Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESF.l.t.r.: Colette Tchoumbou, Charlotte Weil (Projektmanagerin), Fadhumo Musa, Idah Nabateregga (Community Manager), Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESAlthough Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is legally prohibited in Germany and other EU countries, time and again many girls living in Europe are brought back to their countries of origin to be cut there. The EU parliament estimates that around 500.000 girls and women are affected by FGM in the European Union, and 180.000 girls and women in addition to that are endangered by it.

Therefore, for the first time ever, TERRE DES FEMMES will train six multipliers. The training is for the so-called Change Agents to be able to advocate the abolishment of FGM in their own communities after having gone through the training. Department manager and expert on FGM Idah Nabateregga illustrated the dimensions FGM has on health as well as social, legal and cultural dimensions. “Because they belong to the communities themselves, the Agents have a special access to the people, especially those who are hard to reach.” Nabateregga explained.

Altogether, 48 propagators in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and France will be trained. The training is part of the two-year CHANGE Plus program, which is being co-financed by the EU commission. The first of the eight training units conducted by TERRE DES FEMMES took place on August 27, 2016.

At 9:30 in the morning, all seven participants were welcomed at Brunnenstraße. After a short introductory speech by Idah Nabateregga and project coordinator Charlotte Weil, the participants introduced themselves. Fatou Mandiang Diatta, Fadhumo Musa, Evariste Kapnang Tchaptchet, Tiranke Diallo, Colette Tchoumbou, Mai Ali and Isatou Barry all have African backgrounds, and all have declared war on FGM.

“It is our responsibility to change the world so that the next generation will not have to suffer Female Genital Mutilation anymore”, Fatou Diatta stated. The hiphop and soul singer also known as “Sister Fa” had to suffer the practice herself in her native Senegal. Just like the Somalian Fadhumo Musa. Almost all women in her country have had to undergo FGM. “As a woman who has had to experience this cruel practice herself, I think it is a form of child abuse. We have to protect our children!”, she demands.

Evariste Kapnang Tchaptechet has the same opinion. Although Female Genital Mutilation is not common in his native country Cameroon, it is in his wife´s, Tiranke Diallo. Tiranke comes from Guinea, where almost all women have been mutilated. “Since our daughter was born I have been involved against this practice, because I do not want my daughter or any other innocent girl to ever suffer from something like this! They shall have a better future!”, Evariste said. Colette Tchoumbou also comes from Cameroon. She wants to be trained as a CHANGE Agent to protect children from the dreadful practice as well as lay the groundwork to a better future for them. In Mai Alis home country, Northern Sudan, the FGM rate is higher than 80 per cent. She is an active member fighting for human and women´s rights in her community and has attended a number of workshops regarding them. On top of that, she is the co-founder of the campaign “My body belongs to me” against FGM. Isatou Barry was born in Gambia, where the prevalence rate of FGM is 75%. In the course of the CHANGE Agent training, she wants to learn as much as she can about the subject in order to gain convincing arguments against FGM she can use in her community work afterwards. She plans to involve the men especially in her work.

After a successful start of the training sessions and the first occasion of getting to know each other, TERRE DES FEMMES is looking forward to the future collaborations with the multipliers. The next training session will take place on September 17th, 2016 in TERRE DES FEMMES` main office.


Russia: Female Genital Mutilation against “sexual immorality”

The prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Africa is a globally known fact. Recently, for the first time, also Russia has become a focus of the public eye with regards to it. In the mainly Muslim-inhabited Northern Caucasus republic of Dagestan in Russia, Female Genital Mutilation is not uncommon. According to the human rights organisation Russian Justice Initiative, tens of thousands of girls living there have been cut. Normally, the procedure is done between the ages of two to three years, but sometimes also is performed on older girls.

The reaction of Muslim cleric Ismail Berdijew towards FGM has recently caused great outrage in Russia. Not only did Berdijew defend the cutting of women in mountain villages in Dagestan, but in addition to that suggested that the practice should be performed on all Russian women. Ismail Berdijew made Female Genital Mutilation appear harmless. The cutting served to fight “sexual immorality” and depravity, the Mufti said. It would not have harmful consequences on women´s health. He gained support for his statements from the archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church, Wselwolod Anatolijewitsch Tschaplin.

Female Genital Mutilation is not only a violation of women´s human rights and a form of child abuse, it also often has grave consequences for the victims. The operation can lead to severe pain, bleedings, infections (f.i. tetanus or HIV), bad wound healing or death, among other things. On top of that, affected women have long-term health risks, some of which are chronic infections and pain, problems with menstruating and urinating, and psychological problems like traumata and depression.

Ismail Berdijew has withdrawn his statements in the meantime and claims to have been misunderstood by the public. TERRE DES FEMMES severely condemns this misogynistic practice.

Further information:!5331640/


Second training for CHANGE Agents in Berlin and Lisbon

1. row, l.t.r.: Colette Tchoumbou, Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet, Mai Ali, Fatou Mandiang Diatta. 2. row l.t.r.: Akiko Rive (Praktikantin Referat FGM), Fadhumo Musa, Idah Nabateregga (Community Manager). Foto: © TDF1. row, l.t.r.: Colette Tchoumbou, Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet, Mai Ali, Fatou Mandiang Diatta. 2. row l.t.r.: Akiko Rive (Praktikantin Referat FGM), Fadhumo Musa, Idah Nabateregga (Community Manager). Foto: © TDFIn the context of the EU-co-financed CHANGE Plus project, TERRE DES FEMMES and APF conduct educational trainings for the so-called CHANGE Agents. After their trainings, the Agents are expected to undertake educational work about FGM in their African communities and propagate its abolishment. In total, 48 propagators in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and France receive such trainings. The agenda of the second training foresaw the subjects of gender and women´s rights as well as FGM and legal questions.

On September 17th, 2016, the second of eight training units took place in TERRE DES FEMMES´ main office in Berlin. The seven participants were received at 9:30 in the morning. After a short introductory speech by community manager Idah Nabateregga, the participants dedicated themselves to the subject of “Gender and Women´s Rights”. Perceptions of men and women in society were discussed and different exercises about them were done.

After a lunch break, Idah Nabateregga shed light on the legal situation regarding FGM in Europe with special focus on the situation in Germany. Proof of the growing attention Female Genital Mutilation is receiving can be found in the fact that the CHANGE Agents training was accompanied by a RTL 2 film team for 1.5 hours. Two interviews with Idah Nabateregga and Fatou Diatta (Sister Fa) as well as the training session were filmed.

In Germany, like in other EU countries, FGM is illegal. Nonetheless, time and time again girls living in Europe are brought back to their countries of origin and mutilated there. The EU parliament estimates that about 500.000 girls and women living in the EU are affected by FGM and another 180.000 are endangered by it.


Visiting the project partners in Lisbon

CHANGE Agents in Portugal. © APFCHANGE Agents in Portugal. © APFOn the same day, September 17th, 2016, a second training of the CHANGE Agents also took place in Lisbon. TERRE DES FEMMES ´project coordinator Charlotte Weil visited the partner organisation APF in Lisbon from 16-17 September 2016. APF´s project coordinator Duarte Vilar, community trainer Sónia Duarte Lopes as well as the manager of finances, Rita Barros, welcomed Charlotte to the APF main office and introduced her to the whole team. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss current project activities and organisational and financial issues.

An external expert, Catarina Moreira from the women´s rights organisation UMAR, conducted the training of the Portuguese CHANGE Agents regarding gender and legal dimensions of FGM on Saturday. She founded the organisation UMAR, which focussed on women´s rights and mainly on FGM. All twelve CHANGE Agents attended the training. Most of them are from Guinea-Bissau, which constitutes the largest African community in Portugal.

CHANGE Agent Filomena Djassi founded the Guinean women´s rights organisation MUSQUEBA. She said she participates in the CHANGE project because spreading knowledge about FGM is essential. “Knowledge is power, and our organisation fights for women´s rights”, she said. Cadidjatu Suncar Baldé, also a member of MUSQUEBA, added that “FGM is done to repress women. But we want to be free from all repression. Women and men are equal. We want the same rights and opportunities.”

The visit of APF was an important experience for both organisations, because it furthered the relationship between the project partners and created an opportunity for exchange and evaluation.

After this informative second training unit, TERRE DES FEMMES now is looking forward to the next training, which will take place on October 1st in the Berlin main office.


Amsterdam: Second coordination meeting for project partners

Participants of the Coordination Meetings in Amsterdam. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESParticipants of the Coordination Meetings in Amsterdam. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn 23rd September 2016, the second coordination meeting for all project partners of the EU-co-financed CHANGE Plus project took place in Amsterdam. FSAN hosted the meeting, all the other European project partners – TERRE DES FEMMES, AIDOS, APF, Coventry University, End FGM, Equipop and Stiftung Hilfe mit Plan attended it. TERRE DES FEMMES was represented by project coordinators Charlotte Weil, Linda Ederberg and community manager Idah Nabateregga.

The agenda of the meeting contained:

  • Reciprocal update of all activities of the last six months
  • Update of project management and –coordination
  • Presentation of the community mapping and project evaluation
  • Evaluation of the CHANGE Agents trainings and community activities as well as the leadership trainings
  • Discussion about planned film on FGM
  • Discussion and planning of closing meeting

A simultaneous session for the community trainers served to the exchange as well as discussions about different approaches, training methods and challenges that arise from the community work. In addition to that, the planning, evaluation and support of behaviour change activities against FGM were discussed.

The meeting was an opportunity to speak about all project activities of the last six months, to evaluate the progress of the project as well as an exchange of experiences. On top of that, it helped tighten the relationship and culture of cooperation between the project partners.


“Hard to reach? – Not really!”- Symposium on cooperation with African communities

On 30 September, Idah Nabateregga, TDF manager of the Female Genital Mutilation department, attended a symposium of the German AIDS-Hilfe (AIDS aid) on cooperation with African communities. Often, these communities are considered to be “hard to reach” for educational projects or health promotion offers – but hard to reach for whom, and why?

During the symposium, more than 80 experts from Germany and Europe discussed how a creative, sustainable and effective cooperation with African communities could look like. What does a diversity-oriented approach mean exactly? What is real commitment, what only fake participation? Which measures can be taken against the structural and social marginalisation of certain migration groups in order to promote more societal participation and better health chances?

Beside different workshops and a podium discussion, the mobile drama group AfroLebenPlus performed at the conference in Cologne. Community expert Idah Nabateregga also used the opportunity for exchange and networking with different experts, representatives of African projects and organisations as well as activists of African origin.


“Overcoming Female Genital Mutilation in Germany”, a symposium on February 6th 2017, the “International Zero Tolerance Day”

Recent UNICEF estimations assume that at least 200 million women and girls are currently affected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), meaning about 70 million more than estimated in 2014. Through migration and fleeing, the problem has spread dramatically to additional regions with the effect that there are now also around 48.000 women affected by FGM living in Germany, for instance, and more than 9.000 girls (TERRE DES FEMMES: 2016) are endangered by it.

To ward off this danger and to enable encompassing protection for the survivors, it is necessary to sensitise and further educate those professional groups who come into contact with FGM the most, like social workers, gynaecologists, midwives, lawyers, the police, teachers and others.

Therefore, TERRE DES FEMMES will seize the occasion of the global “Zero Tolerance Day” against FGM on February 6, 2017, to hold a symposium together with the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend BMFSFJ). Among other things, the web-based platform for professionals will be launched there. The platform was developed under the EU-subsidised “United to end FGM” project together with ten European partner organisations and will be available in nine languages for the public by February 9, 2017 on the Internet free of charge. Additionally, activists and community representatives will have the chance to speak about the current situations and needs of the communities. The participants will be able to debate current subjects in small groups.

Location: Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Glinkastr.24, 10117 Berlin
Date/ Time: 6 February 2017, 2­pm – 6pm

The symposium is now open for registration. For further information or questions, please write us at


Third CHANGE Plus training in Berlin

Participants of the 3. CHANGE Plus Training in Berlin.  Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESParticipants of the 3. CHANGE Plus Training in Berlin. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn October 1, 2016, the third training in the context of the EU-wide project CHANGE Plus took place in Berlin. The training of propagators from various African diaspora communities is supposed to contribute to the conquest of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Europe. The subjects of this meeting were communicational and conflict management competences, which the multipliers should have mastery of, as well as the roles culture, tradition, identity and religion play in the context of FGM.

After an introduction into the subject, participant of the CHANGE Plus project and human rights activist Mai Ali took charge of the first part of the training session. By discussing exemplary cases and taking on other perspectives, the participants were prepared for possible conflict situations. Together, strategies were developed on how to behave in and deal with conflict situations.

Also, two Skype conference calls with two CHANGE Plus partner organisations holding training meetings the same day in Amsterdam and Lisbon were scheduled for the day. First, the CHANGE Agents from FSAN (Federation of Somali Associations Netherlands) introduced themselves to the Berlin Agents and vice versa. After that, the participants of APF (Family Planning Association) introduced themselves. A round of questions followed between the CHANGE Agents, which focussed on problems and possible solutions for the work in the respective communities.

After a lunch break, trainer and policy specialist on FGM, Idah Nabateregga, talked about the connection between FGM and culture, tradition, identity and religion. In this context, a Skype call with Fatoumata Samaké from Plan Mali was planned. The CHANGE Agents could exchange different strategies for fighting FGM with her and also talk about the legal situation in Mali as well as the influence of religious leaders.

We are happy that a personal exchange between the Berlin CHANGE Agents and the partner organisations FSAN in Amsterdam, APF in Lisbon and Plan Mali took place and are looking forward to the next CHANGE Plus meeting in November.

A radio journalist attended the second half of the training. Broadcasts on WDR and NDR channels will follow shortly. Through migration and fleeing, the problem has spread drastically to more regions, effecting now also around 48.000 women affected by FGM living in Germany, for instance, and more than 9.000 girls (TERRE DES FEMMES: 2016) endangered by it.


Work group meeting of German Federal NGO (Bund-Länder-NRO-AG) in Berlin

On October 12th, 2016, the work group of the German Federal NGO against Female Genital Mutilation held its first meeting in two years in the German Ministry of Family Affairs in Berlin. TERRE DES FEMMES department officer Idah Nabateregga took part as one of the representatives of the INTEGRA network. INTEGRA, a German network for the abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation, has been advocating the abolishment of FGM in Germany and worldwide since the year 2000. Various topics were discussed and the work of INTEGRA examined.

Furthermore, our department manager Linda Ederberg was invited to introduce our EU-projects “CHANGE Plus” and “United to end FGM”. We are happy to inform you that the representatives of the Ministry of Family Affairs and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees paid close attention to our reported experiences with the projects and will take them into consideration in their daily political work. On 6 February 2017, TERRE DES FEMMES will hold a nationwide conference together with the Ministry of Family Affairs for professional groups who are in contact with affected girls. The results and activities of both EU projects will be presented there.


TDF department manager Idah Nabateregga at EASO workshop about Female Genital Mutilation

On 25 and 26 October 2016, our department manager Idah Nabateregga from our FGM-department took part in a workshop organised by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Valetta, Malta.

EASO collects information about “countries of origin” of asylum seekers among other things. This information is important for those responsible in the asylum process and for decisions of asylum grants. EASO organises country-and subject-specific workshops to share information about “countries of origin”, discuss those with different experts and to collect information for queries of EU member states.

Experts of national asylum agencies, EU representatives or those working for UNHCR, UNICEF and other NGO´s attend the workshop on Female Genital Mutilation in order to present information about Female Genital Mutilation in the different “countries of origin”. There will be presentations from diverse experts who will share country-specific information about Senegal, Gambia, Sudan, Somalia and Niger amongst others.

The TERRE DES FEMMES department specialist Idah Nabateregga presented prevalence rates, social and religious contexts and risks of FGM as well as reactions of authorities in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. Also, projects of our partner organisations Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM) in Sierra Leone and Bangr Nooma in Burkina Faso will be topics of discussion. Together with endangered girls, traditional midwives and cutters, parents, medical personnel, political and religious leaders, the police and teachers, they advocate the abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation.


TDF policy specialist Linda Ederberg attends End FGM conference in Brussels

The European network End FGM held a conference concerning the topics of asylum and Female Genital Mutilation on November 8, 2016. End FGM is a European umbrella organisation, which consists of 15 national non-governmental-organisations dedicated to implementing sustainable measures against Female Genital Mutilation.

Since January 2016 TERRE DES FEMMES has been a member of the organisation.

The subject of the conference was Female Genital Mutilation and gender-based vulnerability in the context of EU asylum procedures. Objectives are, amongst others, to analyse the reform of the Common European Asylum Systems (CEAS) and the challenges it poses together, exchange successful approaches as well as collect the different perspectives of all participants.

The agenda of the conference contained:

  • Introduction: the concept of vulnerability
  • Podium discussion: guaranteed international protection of FGM-survivors
  • Podium discussion: credibility of FGM as asylum granting, psychological wellbeing and psychological point of view
  •  Podium discussion: promising approaches – the solution
  • Open Q&A with the audience after each podium discussion
  • Conclusion and summary of suggestions with final remarks

The conference addresses NGO´s who work together with refugees affected or threatened by FGM, experts of the health sector, lawyers, political decision makers at EU level, scientists, as well as women affected or threatened by FGM or any other gender-based violence who have already passed the asylum procedure. The conference is also open to an interested public. TERRE DES FEMMES is being represented at the conference by or policy specialist Linda Ederberg.


Pro Familia and Dr. Christoph Zerm attended the fourth CHANGE Plus training in Berlin

4. CHANGE Agent Training. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMES4. CHANGE Agent Training. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESThe fourth training session of the future CHANGE Agents in the context of the EU-wide CHANGE Plus project took place on November 5, 2016 in TERRE DES FEMMES´main office in Berlin. The training of the so-called CHANGE Agents from different African diaspora communities is supposed to contribute to the abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation in Europe. As special guests and experts TERRE DES FEMMES was delighted to be able to invite Andreas Ritter and Jutta Pliefke from Pro Familia and Dr. Christoph Zerm. The topics of the training were sexual and reproductive health, health consequences of FGM, reconstructive surgery and pregnancy.

After a short welcome by community manager Idah Nabateregga, the experts from Pro Familia took over. First, they gave a short introduction to Pro Familia´s work, to then continue with a small exercise introducing the subjects of sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights. Andreas Ritter and Jutte Pliefke succeeded in making the subject tangible for all participants. After their presentation, the two experts were up for and gave detailed answers to the many questions the Change Agents had. Jutte Pliefke and Andreas Ritter ended their presentation with an exercise, the so-called “power walk”, which the Agents can integrate into their soon-to-start community work.

After a lunch break, the gynaecologist Dr. Christoph Zerm took over. Dr. Christoph Zerm has been dedicating himself to the subject of FGM for over 20 years now and is one of the few experts in the field in Germany. At the beginning all participants were encouraged to write one or two questions they wanted answered by the end of the training on a piece of paper. Especially the reconstructive surgery and the consequences FGM can have on pregnancies were of great interest to the CHANGE Agents. Dr. Christoph Zerm responded thoroughly to all questions. But first of all, he explained the anatomy of the female genital and the different types of FGM, which he demonstrated using illustrations and photographs. Thereafter, he spoke about possible operations and explained some of the operations he has performed himself in more detail, for instance one after a tumor development as a result of FGM. For reconstructions, for example after cases of infibulation, he referred to Dr. O´Dey, the head of the centre for reconstructive surgery of female genitalia at the Luisenhospital in Aachen, as an expert.

Finally, Dr. Zerm answered the many questions the CHANGE Agents had regarding FGM and pregnancy. He shared information about health consequences for the affected as well as the rights and obligations of medical doctors. TERRE DES FEMMES thanks Andreas Ritter, Jutta Pliefke and Dr. Christoph Zerm for the captivating and informative training most warmly.


Female Genital Mutilation in Colombia

After the death of two newborn baby girls in Pueblo Rico, it became publicly known in 2007 that FGM is practised in Colombia. Both girls had died from the grave consequence of the practice. The Emberá, the second largest ethnic minority in Colombia, is the only ethnicity so far known to practise FGM in Latin America.

About 230 000 Emberá live in Colombia alone. In Panama and Ecuador, members of the ethnic group can also be found. Many Emberá men only found out after it was made public that FGM was being practised amongst their ethnic group. Also, many women only realised after the birth of their first daughter that their ethnicity practised FGM. Amongst the Emberá, FGM is known under the term curacíon (Spanish for “healing”). They believe an uncut vulva will turn into a penis. The clitoris is seen as a defect that must be corrected. Further explanations for the practice were the prevention of promiscuity or of bad wives. The Emberá girls are mutilated on the day of their birth or shortly thereafter. In the process, the clitoris is partially or wholly removed.

After Female Genital Mutilation among the Emberá was brought to daylight in 2007, the Colombian ministry of health, different human rights representatives as well as the United Nations campaigned for a politic of education among the Emberá with the goal of ending it. There are many theories concerning the practice´s origins. One of them claims the practice came to South America along with slavery. Another theory proposes that some time ago, a hermaphrodite had been born into the Emberá community and the midwife had regarded it as necessary to circumcise the girl to prevent it turning into a boy.

There is no official data on the number of girls who underwent Female Genital Mutilation in Colombia. The UNFPA (United Nations Populations Fund) conducted anthropological studies and information campaigns amongst midwives and women for several years. In 2012, Female Genital Mutilation was finally prohibited in Colombia. Emberá leaders claim that FGM has not been practised in two reservations since then. But especially in remote regions, informational campaigns still prove to be difficult. What makes the work even more difficult is the reluctance of many women to speak with outsiders about the “curacíon”. Every woman has the right to an unscathed life. TERRE DES FEMMES condemns the misogynistic practice of Female Genital Mutilation most severely.

Further information:


The work team of the German Federal NGO (Bund-Länder-NRO AG) on the development of projects against FGM

On November 09, 2016, TDF policy specialist Idah Nabateregga attended a meeting of the newly founded (Oct 12, 2016) Bund-Länder-NRO AG work team´s subdivision concerning itself with FGM. For the first time, the work team met at the Ministry of Family Affairs to talk about designing projects against FGM.

The situation of women and girls who have fled their countries was given special attention during the meeting. Several members of the INTEGRA-network were invited to share their experiences with working in different communities throughout Germany. To overcome FGM, it is of the utmost importance that the communities are included in the process. Besides members of INTEGRA, also representatives of different ministries are active in the FGM-subdivision.


Second last CHANGE Agent training in Berlin

CHANGE Agents during the training in Berlin. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESCHANGE Agents during the training in Berlin. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESThe second last CHANGE Agent training in Berlin was held on Nov 19, 2016 in TERRE DES FEMMES’ main office. After a short welcome speech by Idah Nabateregga, the psychologist and head of TDF´s counselling centre, Katrin Schwedes, took over. As an expert, she introduced self-protection strategies to the CHANGE agents. At the beginning, the CHANGE Agents were encouraged to write down their wishes and expectations regarding the training. After that, a short video explaining the neurological effects traumata have on different regions of the brain was showed to introduce the subject. After Katrin summarized the video in her own words, the CHANGE Agents led a heated discussion about trauma trigger that could occur in daily life, their consequences as well as possible strategies to deal with traumatized persons. It was very important to the CHANGE Agents to learn these strategies.

By using examples from their own work, Katrin Schwedes and Alexandra Kampe, a member of staff of TERRE DES FEMMES counselling centre, further emphasised the complexity and individuality of each case. At around 12:30 p.m., two employees of N24 arrived. They conducted interviews with the CHANGE Agents and filmed small excerpts of the training.

After a lunch break, CHANGE Plus project coordinator Charlotte Weil started a Skype call with the partner organisation Equipop (Équilibres & Populations) in France to give the CHANGE Agents in both countries an opportunity to exchange their experiences and planned activities. The remaining time was used to learn about self-care strategies for the CHANGE Agents and the importance of developing and applying coping skills.

Despite the difficult and sensitive subject, Katrin Schwedes succeeded in creating a ‘safe space’ in which the CHANGE Agents felt secure. TERRE DES FEMMES gives many thanks to Katrin Schwedes and Alexandra Kampe for this educational and interesting training as well as their readiness to share their own experiences with the CHANGE Agents.


TERRE DES FEMMES member Hedwig von Knorre explains about FGM on midwives forum

Hedwig Knorre at the infomation desk. Photo: © Hebammenforum, Hedwig von KnorreHedwig Knorre at the infomation desk. Photo: © Hebammenforum, Hedwig von KnorreThe annual midwives forum took place on 18th and 19th November in Mainz this year. TDF member and midwife Hedwig von Knorre – also active in the workgroup about FGM – represented TDF with an info booth there. This year, the forum saw almost 1700 visitors who were either midwives themselves or working in neighbouring professions. Von Knorre helped to inform the professional public with her information material more about FGM in Germany. Unfortunately, still only a few working in the field have received sufficient training about pregnancy and delivery of affected women.

A great amount of TDF-information material was handed out, conceptualized both for affected women themselves as well as for professionals working in the social, medical and pedagogical sectors. The brochures are available in seven languages and, like all our material, can be downloaded for free from our website.

We want to thank Hedwig von Knorre for her commitment and longstanding dedication!



FGM exchange meeting with Social Democrat Members of Parliament

F.l.t.r.: Dr. Idah Nabateregga, MdB Gabriela Heinrich, MdB Michaela Engelmeier, Christa Stolle. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESF.l.t.r.: Dr. Idah Nabateregga, MdB Gabriela Heinrich, MdB Michaela Engelmeier, Christa Stolle. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESOn 22nd of November 2016, Christa Stolle and Dr. Idah Nabateregga met with Members of Parliament Gabriela Heinrich (deputy speaker on human rights of the German Social Democrat party SPD) and Michaela Engelmeier (designated SPD reporter in the German committee of developmental affairs) to exchange about Female Genital Mutilation. Two further Members of Parliament attended the meeting.

The two MP´s often engage themselves with the subject of FGM. Recently, Mrs. Heinrich spoke in front of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council about a report on FGM. Her speech sparked reactions: it was remarked that in Germany so far, doctors, for instance, are not obliged to report occurrences of FGM amongst their patients or patients in danger of having to undergo FGM to the responsible authorities. The two MP´s were informed about TERRE DES FEMMES stance on this fact and the political implications arising therefrom.

For years, TERRE DES FEMMES has been demanding obligatory reporting to child protective services. Other important demands and topics besides the obligatory reporting were discussed, as well: further training about FGM for different groups of professions, collaboration with youths, awareness campaigns in affected communities and binding medical check-ups for all children in Germany – independent from sex or origin. This would not only allow detections of cases of Female Genital Mutilation, but also cases of sexual abuse. All of this could be subsumed in a National Action Plan. Mrs. Heinrich and Mrs. Engelmeier accepted our suggestions for further lobbying.

TERRE DES FEMMES thanks them most warmly for their cooperation and commitment to protect children and end FGM in Germany.


Nationwide book campaign on 06 February 2017, the International Day of “Zero tolerance towards Female Genital Mutilation”

TERRE DES FEMMES-desk in Marburg.  Photo: © Universitätsbuchhandlung Elwert-Lehmann MarburgTERRE DES FEMMES-desk in Marburg. Photo: © Universitätsbuchhandlung Elwert-Lehmann MarburgFemale Genital Mutilation is a global phenomenon and happens worldwide. The WHO estimates that 200 Million women worldwide are affected by it. More than 48000 women living in Germany are affected and around 9300 girls and young women are in danger of having to undergo the practice.

To raise public awareness for the new results and insights of our work, in 2017 there will again be a book table campaign in numerous libraries and bookshops across Germany. By presenting books (Link zu PDF-Buchtipps) all concerning themselves with FGM, we want to broaden the general knowledge about the subject in Germany and encourage active involvement. Only if profound knowledge surpasses the practice itself can we jointly put an end to Female Genital Mutilation. Therefore, we hereby want to warmly invite you to take part in our campaign and ask your local bookshops or libraries if they would lend some of their presentation space to the subject of Female Genital Mutilation. To do so, please forward our list of books to your local bookshops and/or libraries.

We would be happy to send you flyers or information material to display.

You can order them from the TDF online shop. If you have any questions, please don´t hesitate to call (+49 30 40504699-22) or send us an email:

We would be delighted if you supported this campaign!

Furthermore, TERRE DES FEMMES makes use of the International Day “Zero Tolerance towards Female Genital Mutilation” on February 6 for the continuous battle of the human rights violation. We have been fighting to end FGM for over 30 years now. Together with the EU-wide projects “CHANGE” and “CHANGE Plus”, both coordinated by TERRE DES FEMMES, we support trainings of local propagators (CHANGE Agents from different countries) in order to achieve the abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation across Europe. As the German partner organisation we contribute to the EU-co-financed project “United to END FGM” by having created a multilingual online learning platform for different fields of profession worldwide. The platform will be launched on February 6, 2017 in the context of a conference of the German Ministry of Family Affairs in Berlin.

This conference primarily addresses professionals who come into contact with survivors of FGM and/or girls and women in danger of having to undergo FGM during their everyday work. The professional fields in question are therefore the medical sector, counselling, and the educational (amongst others). Extensive support of the survivors as well as improved protection of the endangered is needed urgently, which is one reason why it is so important raise awareness among the professionals in question. The learning platform seeks to achieve one part of this educational work and can be reached by everyone interested in the topic from February 6, 2017 on. It will be presented online in nine languages and is free of charge.

Besides the launch, several community representatives and CHANGE Agents will report on the situation and needs of African communities. There will be enough time to speak with the Agents and community members as well as numerous experts from different professional groups about the subject.


Final training meeting of Change Agents in Berlin

CHANGE Agents during their last training with Dr. Idah Nabateregga (center). Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESCHANGE Agents during their last training with Dr. Idah Nabateregga (center). Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMESThe last training of CHANGE Agents took place on November 25, 2016 in TERRE DES FEMMES´ main office in Berlin. Our policy specialist on Female Genital Mutilation, Dr. Idah Nabateregga, moderated the event. The objective of the meeting was to reflect on past trainings, exchange impressions and interiorise core statements of the training series. Content-wise, the meeting laid its main focus on the analysis of the communities and the mechanisms through which the Agents would be able to reach the communities. The training opened with the question of what exactly the CHANGE Agents imagined their work with the communities would look like and what the best way to reach them could be.

One especially important aspect concerning the cooperation with the communities is, according to the Agents, mutual respect. Without respect for the other´s culture a dialogue is said not to be possible. The Agents agreed that FGM must be acknowledged as a shared problem in order to break with traditions and induce lasting change. The question of guilt in particular is a sensitive topic, as not the community itself, but the lack of access to education is to be held responsible for the continuous practising of FGM, one Change Agent said. Also, a thorough illustration of the legal consequences throughout the communities is said to be necessary, as such deterrence could prove effective in preventing future mutilations. Furthermore, patience plays a big role while dealing with the communities, as social structures and behaviours can only be changed over long periods of time. As further key competences in dealing with the communities, negotiating skills, sensitivity and innovative thinking were named, because by using those conflicts can be avoided and the communities can restructure their social norms by a change of perspective.

The training on 25 November 2016 was the last meeting of the year between the Agents and trainer Idah Nabateregga. In the year to come, 2017, the CHANGE Agents will work intensively within their respective communities. Three activities are scheduled between January and September. Additionally, ten exchange meetings are planned to take place between January and October. TDF’s policy specialist Dr. Idah Nabateregga will actively attend the meetings and activities.


FGM Uncovered in Georgia

An IWPR (Institute for War and Peace Reporting) investigation has discovered that hundreds of girls from the ethnic Avar community in eastern Georgia are being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

The Georgian government has pledged to investigate following the revelation that girls in the villages of Tivi, Saruso and Chantliskure in the Kvareli district, which has a large Avar population, are being cut in childhood. Georgia´s constitution guarantees every person freedom of religion and belief, but it also enshrines the right to a healthy life. Moreover, the international convention for the protection of children´s rights, to which Georgia is bound, also applies. The Georgian authorities told IWPR that they had no prior knowledge of this practice and that no local NGOs or human rights bodies had reported that FGM was being carried out anywhere in the country.

Georgians generally know very little about the Avar community, a native ethnic group in the Caucasus that was historically based in the mountainous part of the Russian republic of Dagestan.  As a result of trade relations with the neighbouring Georgian district of Kvareli in the 18th century, some Avars settled there and around 3,000 of their descendants remain today. Although isolated from their homeland and living in a remote area of Georgia, the Avars have staunchly preserved their own culture and traditions, including the Avar language, their cuisine, wedding and funeral rites and religious customs. As a rule, Avars marry only within their own community.

In August, a report published by the Legal Initiative for Russia NGO revealed that tens of thousands of Avar women and girls had undergone FGM in Dagestan. TDF reported on this in September 2016.

The origin of the practice of FGM in Dagestan is unknown, explained Saida Siradjudinova, one of the report´s authors and a doctoral student of political science and ethnic policy at the North Caucasian Academy of Civil Service in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. “The ethnographer Yuri Karpov has attributed female circumcision to pre-Islamic customs… but this is only his hypothesis.  It would be wrong to reference only that.  There is no exact source explaining how female circumcision arose in Dagestan. The tradition moved to Georgia with [the Avars] who settled there,” she said. 

TERRE DES FEMMES demands funding for research on regions where FGM is practiced and granting of funds for educational projects in regions with high rates of acceptance.


Further education series Female Genital Mutilation: consequences for affected women and girls – medical and psychosocial care work for different professional groups

From 6th–8th December 2016, FGM department specialist Dr. Idah Nabateregga supported the further education series Female Genital Mutilation: consequences for affected women and girls – medical and psychosocial care work hosted by FaZIT (Brandenburg´s professional counselling service on immigration, integration and tolerance) as an expert on the subject.

The further education series addressed professional groups coming into contact with affected girls and women and who are not familiar with the psychological and physical consequences Female Genital Mutilation has. Affected women and girls suffer from the consequences of FGM for the rest of their lives. Inflammations of the genital area, incontinence, fistulas and other severe problems are common after mutilations, all of which can lead to overwhelming feelings of shame and even social isolation among the affected.

As a result of increasing immigration of women from countries where FGM is widespread, also Brandenburg professionals will come into contact with affected girls and women more and more often. The objective of the education series is therefore to raise awareness about dealings with the affected among these professionals as well as inform them about medical and psychosocial aid services.

Together with the INTEGRA network, TERRE DES FEMMES has put together a nationwide list with contact persons (pdf-file) offering medical, legal and social services concerning FGM.


Female Genital Mutilation among white Christian communities in the USA

On December 3, The Guardian published a brave and moving opinion piece about the 72-year-old American artist Renee Bergstrom who was genitally mutilated in 1947 by a Christian doctor. You can find a link to her story here:

Bergstrom, however, is not the only white Christian woman who had to endure the practice. Here are three further case studies published on a site trying to raise awareness against the very common practise of male circumcision in the USA, but also against any kind of genital mutilation:

The first woman sharing her story was only 30 years old at the time of the publication. She has an Irish-Catholic and Jewish background. Her Jewish mother had converted to Catholicism when she married her father. She reports on having been mutilated as a toddler by the same paediatrician who circumcised her brothers. Her clitoral hood was removed along with her inner labia when she was two years old. She only learned in this in her late twenties, after several sex partners had commented on the unusually “perfect” form of her vagina, finally leading her to ask her gynaecologist if anything about her was not normal. He told her the truth – that she had been “circumcised”. After months of demanding research, she finally obtained the records of the paediatrician who had performed the operation – at her mother´s request. When she confronted her mother with this proof, her mother adamantly told her that she had always done what was best for her children and had no regrets, but did not want to speak of it. Today, among other things, she suffers even from the lightest contact with her underwear, which irritates her overexposed clitoris.

The second case history is that of woman who is over 60 years old today and who was genitally mutilated in 1950´s USA. She describes herself as a “white, Anglo-Saxon protestant woman”. She, too, was robbed of her clitoral hood and inner labia. She only found this out when she was over 50 years old. She had been a very happy child until she was in the first grade, she writes. After that, she had led a life full of anger and resentment, rejecting everyone who wanted to be close to her, and had wanted to be dead without knowing why.

Later, during her work as a crisis counsellor, she started working to prevent the circumcision of boys. After she had been involved in this for a couple of years and after a series of interesting “coincidences”, as she puts it, she discovered she had been circumcised, too. All of a sudden, everything made sense to her – she had been traumatized and her feelings and behaviour had been, for all these years, those of a traumatized person. She found a therapist whom she could trust and finally, with his help, could overcome her trauma. Today, she is a hypnotherapist herself and has written an autobiography titled The Rape of Innocence, which is available on Amazon.

With the help of her book, she hopes to reach more women who have suffered Female Genital Mutilation in the USA and who might want to get in touch with her. The third tale of suffering tells the story of an Irish/English Canadian woman who is also over 60 years old today. At the point in time she shared her story on the site, she had just learned a few weeks before that she had been genitally mutilated. Through comparing her own vagina with pictures of vaginas on the Internet, she discovered that parts of her own were missing. Thereupon, she called her youngest sister, who confirmed that there was something in the upper vaginal region you could feel and that felt good to touch: the clitoris. Interested, she called her other sister. The other sister did not want to speak about the subject. She only told her that she wasn´t interested in self-exploration and that sex had always been painful. Looking back, she writes, she has reason to believe her sister had also been “cut”.

Confused, the Canadian then began to research the net for further information and finally found out that a procedure called clitoridectomy (surgical removal of the clitoris) had been conducted in North America into the mid-fifties, had been covered by Blue Cross, the largest health insurance company in North America until the mid-´70´s, and not completely banned in the U.S. until 1996.

Soon after learning this, she began to have flashbacks. She remembered, as a child of 3 or 4, having “something” she could hold on to “down there”. When she asked her mother about it, the mother, a staunch Catholic of the extreme variety, told her that she was upset, disturbed and actually did not want the thing she was giving her attention to. Therefore, she would make her “nice and pretty”. The Canadian recalls nothing of the actual procedure, but has had flashbacks of events after the procedure: of her mother tending the area on numerous occasions and telling her every time she was “nice and pretty” now.

At this point, despite the flashbacks, the Canadian still did want to believe what she already knew. Still, she showed her vagina to a friend she trusted. At last, this friend told her the sad truth: the head of her clitoris as well as her clitoral hood had been removed. There was no scar tissue to be seen, no discolouration– nice and pretty!

More flashbacks followed. Memories of intense pain in the genital area after the operation, of how much it hurt to urinate. She also developed strong phantom pain in her genital region, which she had repressed for all these years. She now has an explanation why she often goes into dissociative states, why she is so easily frightened and insecure and always needs reassurance – a part of her never overcome her childhood trauma and therefore never grew up.

Also regarding her sexuality, she says about herself that she never grew up enough to be a sexually mature woman, instead always did what her husband wanted, like a little girl. As she herself fatalistically puts it: “One will never know what one never knew.” It is, in fact, well documented that Female Genital Mutilation also has a history in Western societies. In the 19th century, for instance, it was practised in Europe to “cure” all kinds of “female maladies” like hysteria, epilepsy, catalepsy or masturbation. It was also done simply for “hygienic” reasons. Because medical personnel always performed the operations for what seemed like necessary health reasons, they were conceived as something totally different than the “barbaric traditions” of so-called “primitive people”.

TERRE DES FEMMES condemns such forms of medicalised Female Genital Mutilation most severely. Female Genital Mutilation is always a severe violation of human rights and constitutes a lifelong injury. FGM has been and is practised by many different groups worldwide. Survivors suffer intensely from the psychological and physical consequences. TERRE DES FEMMES demands thorough information campaigns about the subject, both for the public and the practising communities themselves. Every woman has the right to physical integrity!

Further information:

Hulverscheidt, Marion. Medizingeschichte: Weibliche Genitalverstümmelung im Europa des 19. Jahrhunderts. Mabuse-Verlag. 2002.