Perpetrators of female genital mutilation hardly prosecuted in Belgium
Prosecution is unlikely against perpetrators of female genital mutilation in Belgium, according to figures requested by MP Els Van Hoof (CD&V) from Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) for the period of 2018 to 2021.
In four years, only nine cases of female genital mutilation have gone to the public prosecutor's office, and one led to criminal prosecution. Seven cases were not prosecuted for technical reasons, including lack of evidence and competence of the prosecuting authorities or lapse of criminal proceedings. One case was not prosecuted due to a lack of investigative capacity.
Van Hoof expressed disappointment with these figures. "Last year, a study by the FPS Public Health showed that the number of cases of female genital mutilation in our country had quadrupled in 15 years," she said. "More than 23,000 women and girls have been genitally mutilated in our country, and 12,000 are at hierarchical risk. Effective prosecutions could make a big difference here. Perpetrators should know that this is a criminal practice."
Since 2001, female genital mutilation has been banned in Belgium. In 2014, incitement to carry out female genital mutilation also became a criminal offence following a bill by Van Hoof. Since 2019, medical personnel have been allowed to report cases of female genital mutilation to the public prosecutor, despite professional secrecy.
In addition, hospitals are obliged to register genital mutilation in a patient's hospital file, which is essential in collecting sufficient data on how to further prevent the practice.
CD&V's Els Van Hoof © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK