07 March 2014

To commemorate International Women’s Day, UNHCR has released short films and an updated statistical overview of female genital mutilation (FGM) and asylum in the EU. Through these films, refugee women who have survived FGM explain their experiences of flight, asylum and integration.

“UNHCR consider FGM as a form of persecution, which involves a number of human rights violations, such as right to life, right to bodily integrity, freedom of choice and right to health. So it involves a number of violations of international human rights law. Women and girls around the world are recognised as refugees on the basis of the claim that they may be subjected to FGM,” states Volker Turk from UNHCR.

According to UNHCR’s statistical overview of FGM and asylum in the EU, in 2013, over 25,000 women and girls from FGM-practising countries sought asylum in the EU. This number has steadily increased since 2008, the UN Agency stresses. According to the report, these women and girls came mainly from countries such as Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria. In 2013, victims of FGM applied for asylum mainly in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, France, the UK and Belgium.

“I come from a village in Mali where excisions are always practised. My sister had a daughter and when the baby was not even 2 years old, she was mutilated. When I was four months’ pregnant and my doctor told me it was a little girl, I was scared for her and ran away to France. I didn’t want my daughter to undergo what they did to me when I was young,” states Aissata who has a two-year old daughter.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 07 March 2014
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