Even in the middle of Europe, numerous women and girls are affected by genital mutilation. To draw attention to this human rights violation, human rights organizations have launched the "International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation".
The subject is in the mud corner, still. "It makes people embarrassed to talk about it," says Tobe Levin, a founding member of the European Network FGM, which campaigns against female genital mutilation in Europe. "That's why it's often relegated to the women's category. There is far too little attention paid to it."For example, more than 90 percent of Egypt's female population is circumcised – "but even though you read about Egypt every day, it's hardly reported," the human rights expert criticizes.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 500 women suffer from genital mutilation.000 women under such an intervention. Worldwide, 140 million women live with mutilated genitals, 120 million of them in Africa, she said. There are no exact figures because the number of unreported cases is very high, explains Tobe Levin. "Children to whom this happens do not report their parents because they want to protect them." Because female circumcision is prohibited by law in EU member states. Migrant women from Africa are brought to their countries of origin for the procedure or are illegally circumcised in the EU – including in Germany. Doctors perform the operation secretly for money – "and not only doctors with an African background," says Barbara Lochbihler (Greens), chairwoman of the EU Parliament's Human Rights Committee. Even though great strides have already been made in raising awareness of the ie, "it's far from a no-brainer," Lochbihler said. 30.000 women whose genitals have been mutilated are said to exist in Germany.
Lifelong painful physical impairment
Female genital mutilation involves partial or total removal of the external female sex organs, such as the labia and clitoris. The consequences for women are often a lifetime of painful physical impairment as well as psychological trauma – "a cruel violation of human rights," says Barbara Lochbihler. The practice is particularly widespread in western and northeastern Africa, especially in Muslim, but sometimes also in Christian areas.
The German Catholic bishops therefore demand from African local churches a clearer partisanship in favor of women. "It is essential to defend bodily integrity absolutely and resolutely," emphasizes, for example, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, chairman of the "Weltkirche" commission of the German Bishops' Conference. Awareness-raising and intensive support for local women's groups are needed, Lochbihler also says. "Behind genital mutilation is the fear of women's sexuality overflowing," says the former secretary general of the German section of Amnesty International.
Tobe Levin says: "The basic problem is that female genital mutilation has a positive connotation in traditional communities – the cut, from this perspective, frees women from something ugly that contributes to their licentiousness." She also fears that the recent law passed in Germany allowing the ritual circumcision of Jewish and Muslim boys could open a door and attempt to draw a parallel with female genital mutilation. "I am Jewish myself, and yet I am against the genital mutilation of boys. It's not compatible with children's rights either."