Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ines Laufer, founder of the TaskForce FGM in Germany that is lobbying for the safe protection of immigrant girls. In recent years, the organization has been initiating several court-proceedings to prevent girls from being taken to their countries of origin where they would face the risk of mutilation. Since April 2010, the TaskForce has been running Germany’s unique emergency-hotline, SOS FGM, which provides immediate help if girls are at risk and also offers access to medical, psychological and legal help. With big success, the TaskForce launched the charity-campaign VISION ACTION CHANGE in November 2010 to unite musicians, artists and designers to take a stand against FGM. At their homonymous music-album , 14 artists from Africa, Europe and the U.S. dedicate their music to the efforts for an end of FGM.
FP: Ines Laufer, welcome to Frontpge Interview.
In our first interview two years ago, we talked about the European policy of tolerance and non-interference towards FGM. Has there been any change?
Laufer: Thanks Jamie.
Yes, we discussed the lack of protection for immigrant girls who, despite living in the EU, continue to be subjected to the mutilation with a prevalence of up to 80% within the high-risk-groups (i.e. from Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, etc.) Although politicians continuously affirm that FGM is a grievous violation of human rights, they still refuse to even discuss effective strategies, such as medical check-ups and medical professionals’ duty to report mutilation when they detect it. These strategies can help pave the way for the prosecution of the perpetrators within the families and lead to a prohibition of parents taking their minor daughters to the countries of origin where they would face a high risk of being subjected to FGM.
FP: So what are these politicians proposing to do to change this situation?
Laufer: They support education and information campaigns. Their thinking is that by educating the governments and the population in the concerned countries — as well as immigrants — about the devastating consequences of FGM, we increase the chances of persuading the perpetrators to abandon the mutilations.
FP: And what do you think of this strategy?
Laufer: It is destined to badly fail because it is based on the very wrong assumption that those who perpetrate Female Genital Mutilation do this because of a lack of knowledge, education and awareness. The premise is that they are in a state of uninformed innocence. This approach lets the perpetrators off the hook and disguises the true nature of FGM as a form of systematic violence which intends to keep the subordination of girls and women in the concerned - predominantly Muslim – societies alive.
We can prove with empirical facts and data that those who are in favor of FGM are far away from being unknowing: The educated elites at a high level of wealth mutilate their children at the same or even higher extent than the uneducated and poor classes of population.
FP: Give us some examples please.
In Sudan, after 70 years of awareness-raising campaigns, the prevalence of FGM did not decline a single percent and remains as high as 89%. The mutilation-rate in highly educated families is 3% higher than in uneducated ones. In the wealthiest class of population, the prevalence of FGM is even 20% higher than in the poorest class.
In Ethiopia, in the cities including Addis Abeba, there’s a 20% higher prevalence of FGM than in rural areas. Almost 80% of victims are to be found in highly-educated families (secondary and higher). This number is only 2% lower than among uneducated, illiterate ones.
In Egypt, there is no significant difference to be found: Almost every girl in highly educated families (92%) is subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. And 75% of mutilations are executed by educated medical professionals (first of all nurses) who propagate the continuation of this practice for their own monetary benefits.
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