Belgium starts actions ahead Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation International Day

The Group for the Abolition of Female Genital Mutilation (Gams) launched a national campaign this Friday, February 3, in Brussels to raise awareness of the two treatment centres for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) accredited in Belgium. Although the number of circumcised women in Belgium is estimated at more than 23,000, many of them are unaware of this possibility of multidisciplinary support and are unaware that the follow-up offered at the CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels and at the university hospital in Ghent is fully reimbursed by social security.

The campaign, coordinated by Gams and financed by the Institute for Equality between Women and Men, was launched in the presence of the Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Sarah Schlitz. "Genital mutilation is an unprecedented attack on women's rights to dispose of their bodies. They cause excruciating suffering and put their lives in danger", underlined the chosen ecologist.

According to estimates, Belgium has 23,000 women. circumcised and 12,000 girls at risk of being circumcised. “I am proud that our country offers these women the opportunity to rebuild physically and mentally, thanks to quality care that is 100% free. We are setting an example in Europe,” she said.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all interventions that result in the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genitalia performed for non-therapeutic purposes. This gender-based violence is not without its dangers for the women who are victims and can result in medical complications as well as psychological trauma.

Launched as a prelude to the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, which takes place on February 6th, the new campaign is available on several awareness tools. An animated film and video in which several circumcised women testify highlight the care offered at the two reference centres. CHU Saint-Pierre (the CeMAViE centre) and UZGent (Vrouwenkliniek) provide a holistic approach and offer women and girls who have undergone genital mutilation medical, psychological, sexological and surgical support, which is fully reimbursed by the health insurance fund.



Queen Mathilde of Belgium greets the public during a visit to vzw-asbl CeMAViE, a center for victims of circumcision, in Brussels, 28 November 2014. BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS


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