Make new migrants renounce mutilation”, says Conservative-led community forum
People coming to Europe as migrants should be obliged to sign a declaration rejecting the brutal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
That was one of the recommendations from a ground-breaking meeting of experts and community leaders this week, called together by campaigning MEP Marina Yannakoudakis.
A range of representatives of London’s Somali and Sierra Leone communities, where FGM is prevalent, joined researchers and campaigners at the MEPs offices in Finchley to discuss approaches to eradicating FGM and potential EU and national Government intervention.
The meeting gave its seal of approval to a three-point manifesto launched by Mrs Yannakoudakis in February calling for a more serious approach to prosecution of FGM perpetrators, better reporting and recording of its prevalence, and restrictions on international aid to countries where it is practised.
But it also went further and endorsed the idea of new migrants being required to pledge their renunciation of FGM, which sees young women and girls as young as four or five mutilated in their genital areas in observance of religious and communal tradition. In addition, the meeting called for EU-wide legislation to ensure that laws banning FGM are applied properly across the whole of Europe.
The practice is prevalent in much of Africa, but has also blighted the lives of thousands of females in Britain and the rest of Europe.
Mrs Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, said: “I believe this the first time such a group of community representatives has been brought together by anyone from the EU.
“It is clear that if any initiatives on female genital mutilation are to work, they have to be run in co-operation with the relevant communities – otherwise they seem like something imposed rather than something to be embraced.
“Securing the support of influential figures and leaders is crucial in turning community awareness into community action.
“I was thrilled by the support that various communities in London extended to this event and I am particularly pleased that the meeting supported the idea of legislation at EU level obliging immigrants entering Europe to sign a declaration rejecting FGM.
“As people choose to move to Britain or elsewhere in Europe, it seems relevant to remind them of the social standards that apply here.
“That should include an acceptance that certain practices are not only unacceptable but illegal.
“This proposal will now form part of a package of recommendations from the meeting which I plan to send to the UK Government and the EU Commission.”