Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a global human rights violation which also exists in Europe. The latest UNICEF statistics, published in February 2016, estimate that at least 200 million women and girls in over 30 countries are living with the lifelong consequences of FGM. A significant number of women, girls and families presenting an asylum claim are affected by FGM. UNHCR estimates that between 20.000 and 30.000 women and girls from FGM-practising countries seek asylum in EU Member States every year.
The data was presented at the conference, ‘Gender-related vulnerabilities in the EU asylum procedures: Spotlight on FGM’ that took place in Brussels today November the 8th. Organized by the END FGM Network, it aimed to explore and discuss the challenges that women and girls affected by FGM face in accessing protection in Europe, address the role of credibility assessment, Country of Origin Information and the systematic lack of gender-sensitive training for professionals, and share promising practices that Member States and professionals could replicate.
Women and girls are facing specific challenges in the asylum system, and even more so in the current context, where political barriers against migrants are a reality. Women and girls survivors of FGM and those fearing the practice are no exception.
Debora Singer, Policy and Research Manager at Asylum Aid, explained how gender and vulnerability affect access to asylum for women and girls, specifically the impact they have on the credibility assessment of claims brought by women. Singer highlighted the complexity of asylum claims on grounds of FGM, stating that “compared with a political activist, it is harder for women claiming asylum to prove the risk they face. You don’t get a certificate for being at risk of FGM.”
The End FGM European Network calls on EU Member States to ensure that FGM-related claims receive appropriate treatment and assessment, and vulnerable women, girls and families affected by FGM are afforded adequate protection and support, as provided under binding EU legislation.