An exchange of experts
On June 23, 2020, DaMigra organized a round table on the subject of female genital mutilation (FGM for short), at which numerous experts came together online. The aim of the event was to promote the exchange again and to discuss the following questions: Which prevention concepts already exist in Europe, especially in Germany and Austria? How can women's rights instruments, such as the Istanbul Convention and the Women's Rights Convention CEDAW, contribute to the fight against FGM? What does it take for good prevention? How can the big goal of zero tolerance towards female genital mutilation (at least in Germany, ideally worldwide) be achieved?
In times of the corona pandemic, the topic of gender-based violence is unfortunately very hot. DaMigra is in constant exchange with experts * on the large topic of the right to self-determination: "For us as DaMigra, it is important to keep the voice of those affected and women * with a migration background at the center," said a warm welcome Lourdes Martínez, chairwoman and spokeswoman for the board of DaMigra eV the round.
Ms. Dr. Delal Atmaca, Managing Director of DaMigra, added: "We stand and fight to make the concerns of those affected visible and audible". The Istanbul Convention Germany alliance will publish a shadow report in 2020 on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Germany. As a member of the alliance, DaMigra will also focus on FGM as a focus.
The first block of the event was devoted to the European practice of women's rights instruments in the fight against FGM.
The Co-founder and chairwoman of the board of DaMigra aD and MEP Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana explained the discussion of FGM at EU political level today and in the past decades. Although the mutilation of female genitals has been classified as a separate criminal offense under Section 2013 a of the Criminal Code (StGB) since September 226, the measures for prevention and prevention are not sufficient. This important role continues to be played by civil society organizations in particular, which achieve great things with their awareness-raising and educational work - in most cases on a voluntary basis - and deserve special appreciation and support from politicians. Projects to combat and abolish gender-based violence must be supported with sufficient budget and funding. But what is needed first and foremost is the consistent implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which Germany ratified in 2017. For a discussion about FGM, Dr. Herzberger-Fofana last but not least, one thing is particularly important: the commitment of the many is not about devaluing or combating traditions in general. It is all about preventing harmful and life-threatening acts of violence against women * and girls and ending them once and for all.
Subsequently shared Marion Böker, association director of advice on human rights and gender issues, her many years of experience in the fight against FGM with the participants *. It would be ideal if lawyers, consultants or interpreters were to support those affected beforehand and to raise awareness in the form of informative materials in the first language. But this is not yet a reality in Germany. Current figures name it: 70.000 women * are affected by FGM in Germany and the number continues to rise in times of the corona pandemic. Articles 38 and 42 of the Istanbul Convention - a human rights agreement that Germany has committed to complying with - clearly describe the obligation to prevent and condemn FGM and to protect those who are threatened and affected. It is therefore particularly important to educate and train institutions such as authorities, associations and chambers through to doctors and counseling centers. In the context of asylum procedures in particular, decision-makers should be trained on gender-based violence in order to guarantee the right to asylum for women who are threatened or affected by FGM. Without exception, same-sex * care situations should also be considered, so that those affected by gender-based violence can also dare to open up. In addition, attention must be paid to the quality of the interpretation. Again and again, interpreters are politically or socially influenced and for this reason are not always able to reproduce facts neutrally.
In the second block of the events, the focus was in particular on prevention concepts and good practical examples in Germany and Austria.
Miss Dr. Gwladys Awo, chairwoman of Lessan eV, criticized the fact that gender-based violence or the threat of this is considered a reason for asylum, but FGM is not explicitly mentioned in the asylum procedure. As a result, the women concerned * often do not know that they have the right to demand their protection and can assert them as grounds for asylum. Furthermore, Dr. Awo, that FGM must be viewed holistically and as a worldwide phenomenon. If FGM is to be ended, the communities must always be involved. It is important for the international institutions to design and implement projects with participatory approaches so that an independent movement can emerge from the communities. In addition, not only educational work is important, but also the economic independence of women *.
Miss Dr. Umyma El Jelede, consultant and project manager at the Women's Health Center South Vienna, confirmed these theses with best practice examples from their work and added: Education and empowerment work should not only take place in the communities. ALL people who are decision-makers or advisors for women and girls must be equally sensitized and trained in matters of FGM in order to be able to support threatened and affected women and girls in the best possible way. This also includes medical staff, judges, employees in the advice centers, educational staff at schools, etc. Likewise, multilingual, protected offers are required to ensure barrier-free and safe communication.
Overall, the panel of experts came to the following results and demands on how good FGM prevention can be achieved:
The multipliers in the communities must be trained, sensitized and informed.
Communication within the communities must be included in the discussion. Likewise with the question of how you would like to talk about the subject of FGM.
In the case of municipal training courses for multipliers, the legal infrastructures such as CEDAW, Istanbul Convention, European Human Rights Agreement, etc. must be mentioned.
Instruments of international law must be made public in plain language, because women * can only claim them if they know their rights.
Empowerment spaces are needed for women * and girls in order to strengthen them.
Communication must take place on an equal footing and movement must take place together with the communities. A transcultural, feminist and intersectional handling of attributions and terminology must also be a prerequisite.
It is also important that counseling centers for those affected receive financial support and have a say in the implementation of funding.
Miss Dr. Atmaca closed the online experts' table with the following words: “As Dr. Awo said FGM is a cross-cultural problem. Violence against women * and girls occurs worldwide. We do us good when we team up. Despite different approaches, we must unite and strengthen ourselves in order to abolish FGM in Europe by 2030, if not beyond! "
The umbrella association of migrant organizations would like to thank all experts for the enriching exchange.
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