Female circumcision or Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or complete removal of the external genital organs of a girl or woman, usually for cultural reasons. Female genital mutilation is banned in many countries, but it is still performed often.
Female circumcision causes severe pain, psychological distress and anxiety, but also infections, severe bleeding and damage to the surrounding organs. It can sometimes result in death. Apart from the psychological problems, it can cause urinary problems and fertility problems and complications during childbirth.
Girls who grow up in Belgium are at risk of suffering genital mutilation when visiting family in their siblings country of origin.
Female circumcision is banned in Belgium and is considered a form of child abuse or violence against women. People or family members who perform this practice or arrange for it to be performed are punishable by law, even if the procedure is performed in another country.
Female circumcision is common in a number of countries in West Africa (including Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso) and East Africa (including Ethiopia, Somalia), but also in Egypt and Indonesia and in other countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Arabian Peninsula.View the map
Protect your daughter
Never leave your daughter alone with family or other people if you are not certain that they will not perform female circumcision. Before you depart, it is important to consider how you can protect your daughter once you arrive there.
Inform your family and friends
Tell the people who want to perform female circumcision on your daughter that you could be punished for this when you return to Belgium. A document called “passport STOP Female Circumcision” is available and has been translated into ten different languages to assist you. These translated “passports” can be downloaded from the website of Intact.
For healthcare providers
Gauge the parents’ views on female circumcision if the parents are originally from a country where this practice is common. Also enquire about the attitude of their family living in the country of origin.