Update: 25.03.2008

National campaign against FGM

UNICEF Switzerland is leading a national campaign from 6 February to 8 March against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Every year, around 3 million girls have had their genitals partially or completely removed - a practice that leads to a number of health problems, not to mention the severe psychological trauma. An international female mutilation conference on 21-22 February to share experiences between European and African countries is being planned by the organisation.

International conference 

During a conference in Geneva on 6 February some 150 people discussed possible ways of eliminating this worldwide practice. The difficulty lies in the deeply rooted beliefs of the societies where FGM is practiced.  «The responsibility for upholding human rights lies with the states,» said Madeline Rees from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. «We need to make sure that when we raise awareness, states must support the fight and report so that we can judge, benchmark and end this torture.»

Around 7'000 girls and women in Switzerland affected

UNICEF estimates that around 7'000 girls or women living in Switzerland are circumcised or are at risk of being so. The children's rights organisation has been campaigning for many years against this extremely painful practice. Girls who are at risk of FGM in Switzerland mainly come from African countries, such as Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The cutting takes place in Switzerland in secret under very unhygenic conditions, or the girls are taken abroad for it.

Clarification of legal situation 

UNICEF demands that the legal situation in Switzerland be clarified and nurses and doctors better trained on how to deal with this situation. At the moment only the two worst forms of FGM (infibulation and excision) are punishable as grieveous bodily harm. A parliamentary initiative demanding a full ban on FGM has been approved, but no law has yet been put into place. 

Caritas Agency for Prevention of FGM

The Health Department has given Caritas Switzerland the mandate to operates an agency to prevent female genital mutilation (FGM) in Switzerland. This agency carries out information campaigns, focussing on the migrant community, concerning problems around FGM in girls. They also organise meetings in all parts of Switzerland where affected women can get information concering the health of women and FGM. 

For further information you can contact Caritas Schweiz, Abteilung Integration und Soziale Projekte, Monika Hürlimann, Löwenstrasse 3, Postfach, 6002 Luzern, 041 419 23 55, mohuerlimann at caritas dot ch.

Further information

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