By Daniela Bishop

For a better consideration of FGM in Belgium

As the federal legislative elections in Belgium approached on May 26, 2019, GAMS Belgium issued an advocacy note for an enhanced policy to address female genital mutilation (FGM) in Belgium.

According to the latest estimates (2016), over 17,000 women living in Belgium have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), and more than 8,000 girls are at risk. These girls and women require genuine protection and multidisciplinary quality care, regardless of their administrative status, place of residence, origin, or language.

Protecting and providing care

The resources allocated to the protection and care of female genital mutilation in Belgium, especially in Flanders, are inadequate.

We demand that the Belgian state implement:

  • A national policy for the protection of at-risk girls
  • Multidisciplinary care for affected women

This should involve:

  • Organizing a roundtable with a diverse panel of experts at both the Belgian and international levels
  • Providing the necessary financial resources to Belgian organizations specialized in this field

Forced marriage, a gender-based violence

Forced marriage is a common reason for exile but difficult to prove in the case of an international protection claim. However, many women affected by FGM are confronted with it.

We urge the Belgian state to:

  • Promote a gender-sensitive approach in handling international protection claims
  • Recognize forced marriage as a form of gender-based violence

Protecting girls

Some young girls residing in Belgium still face the risk of FGM during vacations. This can be compounded by other forms of sexual violence, which are rarely detected and addressed.

We request that frontline professionals receive systematic training on gender-based violence, particularly female genital mutilation.

Dublin Regulation: Precarious residence and violence

The situation of women with precarious, undocumented status makes them vulnerable. They are at risk of other forms of violence, including gender-based violence.

For women whose situation depends on the Dublin III Regulation, we demand flexible, humane, and supportive application. This includes recognizing the vulnerability of migrant women facing gender-based violence.

GAMS Belgium also supports:

  • The memorandum of Genres Pluriels: for the recognition of the fundamental rights of intersex persons
  • The memorandum of the Platform for Unaccompanied Minors: for better protection of unaccompanied foreign minors (MENA) and children with irregular or precarious status
  • The memorandum of CIRÉ for the respect of the fundamental rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and foreigners regardless of their status
  • The manifesto for a respectful birth of the Platform for a Respectful Birth
  • The 2019 memorandum of the Brussels and Walloon Federations for Health Promotion
  • The 2019 memorandum of Plan Belgium