Dutch Ministry Figures on Female Circumcision

6 February 2013


According to the Dutch Health Ministry, efforts in the Netherlands to eradicate female circumcision are proving effective. While exact figures are unavailable, Pharos research institute estimates some 40-50 girls living in the Netherlands may undergo female circumcision every year, during visits to their country of origin. In total some 30,000 women in the Netherlands have undergone the procedure, usually before arriving in the country. The research showed Somalia and Egypt as the countries of origin in which the practice was most common.

In a statement, Junior Health Minister Martin van Rijn commented, “these remain confrontational figures but the fact the risk to girls who have lived here for some time is low is a good sign.” Female genital mutilation is a criminal offence in the Netherlands, and constitutes child abuse when carried out on underage girls.

Organizations Angered by Suggestion to Legalize Minor Female Circumcision

10 October 2011

The Dutch Physicians’ Association and women’s groups have responded to a lawyer whose doctoral thesis urged legalization of a ‘minor form of female circumcision. The thesis, presented at Erasmus University, suggested that “cultural freedom should take precedence”, while a speaker for the Gynaecoloigcal Patients Association responded that “circumcision is torture, plain and simple.”

Dutch Declaration Against Female Circumcision

March 3 2011

A joint declaration stating explicitly that female circumcision is against the law in the Netherlands has been presented by Dutch ministries, migrant organizations and health authorities. The intent of the declaration is that those under pressure to circumcise their daughters can use the document as ‘proof’ against the procedure. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that most circumcisions occur among women in African countries, and that sometimes the practice is linked to Islam and faith, and sometimes a ‘cultural practice’. Because the practice is banned in the Netherlands, some girls are circumcised “during holidays to their country of origin”.

Sarkozy says polygamy and female circumcision are not grounds to lose citizenship

News Agencies – September 6, 2010
President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to press ahead with plans to strip French citizenship from immigrants who attack police, but ruled out that punishment for those who practice polygamy or promote female circumcision. Sarkozy first proposed reversing the naturalisation of immigrants convicted of endangering the lives of police in July in response to three days of urban riots in the southern city of Grenoble after police shot dead a suspected armed robber.
But the president’s proposals and a separate call by his Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux to strip the nationality of polygamists and female circumcision advocates, have been fiercely criticized by the opposition and some legal experts.
Left-wing and intellectual critics accuse Sarkozy of playing to racist sentiment by lumping violent crime and immigration together, and creating two classes of citizenship. Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested in several cities against Sarkozy’s security crackdown, which has included the highly publicized rounding up and expulsion of illegal Roma migrants. The government called the protest a flop.

Dutch Man Cleared in Excision Case

A court has cleared a man on a charge of genital cutting in the Netherlands’ first trial linked to female circumcision. Haarlem District Court judges say there is no doubt the girl underwent female circumcision but there is insufficient evidence to convict her father. The father was convicted of beating and biting his daughter and was sentenced to three months imprisonment.

Excision Case Opens in Haarlem

A 30 year old Dutch man of Moroccan is on trial for genitally cutting his six year old daughter. The public prosecution has requested the sentence saying that the girl has been permanently mutilated by the man. The charges came after the girl told foster parents that her father cut her. Female circumcision is a criminal offence in the Netherlands, but victims often remain hidden, because the cutting takes place in a closed family setting.
The accused man denies the charges and pleads not guilty. His defense lawyer sees the five-year-old daughter’s statement as highly questionable and has applied for a second opinion from a legal psychologist. The girl and her sister have been taken into care.

In coverage of the case Radio Netherlands Worldwide includes a discussion with cultural anthropologist and midwife Dineke Korfker, who says that female circumcision is not originally a Muslim practice. “People often see it as being Islamic and think it’s prescribed by the religion, but the highest Islamic body, the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, has officially distanced itself from the practice and calls on people not to do it.” Korfker also notes that the practice is not found in Morocco.

A verdict for the case, and possible sentencing, is due on September 17

Norway: Attitudes concerning female circumcision are changing

According to a new report prepared for the Ministry of Children and Equality and Ministry of Health in Norway, female circumcision is much less widespread than originally thought. Between 2006 and 2007, there were 15 known cases of female circumcision. Six of the fifteen cases had been reported to the police. Researches think that the change in attitude concerning the practice will contribute to reducing the extent of female circumcision; the practice had been thought to make marriage easier for girls to be married, but attributed among males suggest that they prefer marrying a girl who is not circumcised. The change in stigmatization is believed to be contributing to the decline in the practice in the country – or at least those which are known. In addition, the Norwegian law banning the practice is becoming more known, which is also believed to be contributing to the decline.

Doctor calls to allow light form of female circumcision

Former internist and oncologist Jannes Mulder wrote in the medical journal _Medisch Contact’ that girls in the Netherlands are still being circumcised, even though female circumcision is banned in the country. The Dutch Council for Public Health estimates that at least 50 girls undergo the procedure each year, mostly within the Somali community. In his article, Mulder suggests that banning the procedure doesn’t work, but a symbolic form of the practice – a pricking of the clitoral hood – ought to be allowed, and would prevent more serious forms of the procedure. His ideas were dismissed by several medical organizations, saying that no compromise should be made regarding the integrity of a girl’s body.

Norway: Government plans against female circumcision

The Norwegian government presented its plan to fight female circumcision, including the confiscation or refusal of issuing passports to parents or children when there is a suspicion a female child will be circumcised. In June of 2007, after it was revealed that Norwegian-African girls are sent to their homeland to be circumcised, the government presented a list of emergency measures. The current plan deals with six areas – effective maintaining of law, increased competence and knowledge, prevention and attitude change, accessible health care, intensified seasonal effort and increased international effort. Meanwhile, the Institute for Social Research (Institutt for samfunnsforskning) is working on documenting the extent and number of cases of female circumcision in Norway and girls living in the country. Once they know more, the government will decide about an obligatory examination of young girls to prevent female circumcision.

Norway: Imams in Norway against female circumcision

Eight Somalian imams met in Trondheim to make a declaration against female circumcision, with the goal of the declaration serving as the basis for a fatwa. Trondheim’s imam Sheikh Abdinur Mahamoud met with seven other imams in a conference on how to stop female circumcision, meant to affirm the position that the custom is not religious, and that its association with Islam is a myth. Abdinur says that after preparing a declaration, they will then speak with more imams to see if they can make a collective fatwa – despite laws forbidding female circumcision.