35,000 girls and women are circumcised or at risk of being circumcised in Belgium

In Belgium, more than 35,000 women are involved in genital mutilation. This is the conclusion of a study on female genital mutilation commissioned by State Secretary for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity Sarah Schlitz and Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a human rights violation and gender-based violence that can lead to many physical and psychological complications throughout life. According to UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women currently living in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have undergone some form of FGM: clitoridectomy, excision or infibulation.

As a host country for girls and women fleeing war or gender-based violence, Belgium is also concerned and it is important to estimate the number of people affected in order to adapt our prevention and management systems. This study, the fourth of its kind since 2007, was conducted by researchers from GAMS Belgium and the Walloon Agency for Health, Social Protection, Disability and Family (AVIQ). It is based on an indirect estimation method using data from the population register and the prevalence of FGM in the countries of origin.

The study estimates that more than 23,000 circumcised women live in Belgium and that more than 12,000 underage girls of circumcised mothers are at risk of female genital mutilation if no prevention work is done. More than 16,500 circumcised or at-risk girls and women live in the Flemish Region. This is an increase of 45 percent compared to 2016. In the Brussels Capital Region, the figure is 10,000 and in the Walloon Region 8,800.


© Anti Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) campaigners march to end FGM in Sierra Leone on International Women’s Day in Freetown on March 8, 2022.

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