Following a European Commission consultation on combating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Amnesty International’s END FGM European Campaign, and the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) have underlined the importance of ensuring the effective and harmonised implementation of the EU asylum acquis in order to ensure  that FGM claims are considered fairly across the EU.

UNHCR considers FGM to be a form of gender-based violence that inflicts severe harm, both mental and physical, and amounts to persecution or serious harm as defined in the EU Qualification Directive (Recast) justifying the granting of international protection.

In order to foster a harmonized approach to the examination of asylum applications related to FGM, the END FGM campaign urges the European Commission to develop interpretative guidelines on FGM and international protection, giving full consideration to the UNHCR Guidelines on gender-based persecution and Guidance Note on FGM and should clearly spell out Member States’ obligations. Both organisations acknowledge the vital role that the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) can play, through its training and its activities related to country of origin information.

Both organisations highlight the importance of involving the communities affected by FGM and enhancing the knowledge of professionals confronted by the practice, including asylum policy and decision makers, social workers and health practitioners.

In UNHCR’s view, further research is needed to understand how women and girls seeking asylum from FGM-practising countries of origin are treated across Europe, how their applications are dealt with, and how they integrate in the communities in which they eventually settle

According to UNHCR, around 20,000 women and girls from FGM-practising countries of origin seek asylum in EU Member States every year, including 9,000 who have potentially already been mutilated. There are an estimated 1,000 asylum claims per year across the EU that directly relate to FGM.

Submissions for the consultation are now closed. A European Commission Communication on FGM is planned for the second part of 2013.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 07 June 2013
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