European NGOs: “Disappointed & Concerned” at Outcome of FGM Michigan case in U.S.A

European NGOs: “Disappointed & Concerned” at Outcome of FGM Michigan Case in US

Wednesday, November 21 2018, Brussels

Immediate Release

The End FGM European Network is disappointed and concerned by the ruling taken in regards to the U.S Michigan case involving two licensed U.S doctors practicing FGM on a number of young girls. This decision undermines the global condemnation of female genital mutilation and disregards the level of extremely concerning behaviour and attitudes towards FGM in the state of Michigan and the US entirely. Our hope is that, through the appeals process, the United States will ultimately stand with the many countries around the world in affirming the illegality of FGM as a human rights violation at the national level.

“This is a very disheartening outcome from the United States. FGM is an international violation of human rights - in particular of women's human Rights - and deserving of international and national laws and action” says Fiona Coyle, Director of the End FGM European Network, based in Brussels.

FGM is a felony in the United States of America since 1996. In Europe, FGM is outlawed in all countries at the national level and is distinctly addressed in the Council of Europe’s ‘Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence’ (The Istanbul Convention) which has been signed by the Council of Europe as well as the European Union. This week will also mark the 5th anniversary of the European Commission's communication to the European Parliament and the European Council towards the ‘elimination of female genital mutilation’.

“Today we stand strong with our colleagues and survivors in the U.S and acknowledge the outcome of this ruling being an issue of American jurisdiction and not a question on whether or not the medicalisation of FGM is harmful. Any doctor violating the oath of ‘cause no harm’ - especially in cases of genital mutilation on young girls - is without question in violation of international human rights law. This is a very disappointing outcome from the United States courts and we need to ensure it is revised immediately so this doesn't happen again.”

Nevertheless, whether at the state or national level, the lack of a ruling on FGM in this circumstance by one of the world's most powerful countries sends a clear message to both affected communities and end FGM organisations everywhere that FGM is not being treated or handled with the level of severity it demands to protect women and girls everywhere.

“Momentum is gathering within the end FGM movement, and the voices of survivors and communities has never been louder. We call for continued political leadership and commitment to ensure that together we can eradicate this harmful practice globally.”


Notes to the Editor:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

The U.S Michigan federal case is the first of its kind in the context of FGM in the United States which first went to court in April 2017. A decision filed yesterday by Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the federal female genital mutilation law is unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the right to criminalize the practice, and therefore dismissed six of eight charges. It is expected that the US government will appeal the decision. A trial date has been set for April 29, 2019.

The End FGM European Network (End FGM EU) is an umbrella network of 22 European organisations operating to sustain European action to ending female genital mutilation by connecting grassroot communities with non-government organisations. The Network strives to build bridges and cooperation’s with all relevant actors in the field of FGM both in Europe and globally. Platforming community voices to influence European governments and policy makers to work towards the elimination of FGM.

More information on FGM in Europe can be found here

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