Against FGM


Despite prevention efforts, the risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Europe or during travel to the country of origin remains present. Organizing or practicing FGM is punishable by Belgian law under “article 409 of the Penal Code”. The role of GAMS Belgium is to equip professionals and/or members to prevent imminent FGM or a planned excision. 



Since 2001, female genital mutilation has been subject to specific criminalization under Belgian law.

Article 409 of the Penal Code (entered into force on March 27, 2001) provides for a penalty of 3 to 5 years’ imprisonment for “anyone who has practiced, facilitated, or favored any form of mutilation of the genital organs of a female, or attempted to do so, with or without the consent of the person. The attempt will be punished by imprisonment of eight days to one year. (…)” – ART. 409 of the Penal Code

Since July 2014, incitement to practice FGM is also punishable by imprisonment (from 8 days to 1 year). The fact that the victim is a minor constitutes an aggravating circumstance, as does the severity of the consequences, the aim of profit, and generally situations of dependency and vulnerability (when the perpetrator has authority over the victim, whether a parent, doctor, etc.). Depending on these circumstances, sentences can range up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

The statute of limitations is 5 years, and it is 10 years in cases of aggravating circumstances. Since the law of November 14, 2019, which came into force on December 30, 2020, the statute of limitation is abolished for any sexual mutilation committed on a minor girl.

Moreover, anyone who participated in, facilitated, or favored FGM on a minor, including abroad, can be prosecuted in Belgium if the perpetrator is on Belgian territory (principle of extraterritoriality).

In Belgium, very few complaints have been filed, and no convictions have been handed down since the entry into force of this penal provision. Therefore, there is no available case law on this matter.




Many countries punish female genital mutilation in Europe and Africa: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mauritania, etc. To discover all existing legislation, visit the CoP website:



Since 2019, GAMS Belgium has taken over the legal support for people affected by female genital mutilation and forced marriages, historically provided by INTACT ASBL.

Various international conventions have been ratified by Belgium and many other countries:

  • CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (January 13, 1984)
  • African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Octobre 21, 1986) to which more than fifty African states have adhered
  • CRC – Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990)
  • Maputo Protocol (adopted in July 2003): this protocol complements the African Charter to promote the fundamental rights of women in Africa and ensure the protection of these rights.
  • Istanbul Convention, entered into force in 2014 : convention on the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence (ratified by Belgium in 2016 and by the EU in June 2023)

Legal support

GAMS Belgium provides first-line support for legal assistance and second-line consultations for professionals who have legal questions related to national and international protection. Today, it is estimated that there are 12,064 girls at risk of FGM if no prevention work is done. The association provides specific information on current legislation, Belgian jurisprudence regarding the consideration of FGM and forced marriages in requests for international protection, on doctrine, and data from Country Reports on female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and other related violence. This legal service does not replace the lawyer in legal proceedings.

The legal services of GAMS Belgium consist of:

  • First-line support for affected families through the psycho-social-legal service of GAMS Belgium
  • Multidisciplinary support with the psycho-social-legal team of GAMS Belgium
  • In-depth legal questions through training
  • Second-line support for lawyers and specialized services in foreign rights facing complex legal situations


FGM: legal databases

GAMS Belgium provides several legal resources.

Case law chart

The legal team of GAMS Belgium monitors the case law of the Conseil du Contentieux des Étrangers (CCE/RvV) concerning applications for International Protection, filed by women/girls who are at risk of FGM and/or forced marriage, in accordance with the Geneva Convetion of 15 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees.

All judgments relating to FGM and gender-based violence, published since 2020, undergo a detailed analysis including the elements specific to the personal situation of the applicants as well as the factual and legal elements underlying the decision of the CCE/RvV. A search in the table can be conducted based on the 15 criteria examined.

Country report

This “country report” tool contains essential information on female genital mutilation worldwide and the associated honor-based violence. It does not claim to be exhaustive. It includes the most recent reports and references older sources based on the frequency of publication of new documents.

Tools & resources

The detectometer

an essential tool

Intended for professionals, it aims to establish an orientation protocol; it helps identify actions to be taken to protect girls and ensure follow-up for a girl already subjected to excision and her sisters at risk of undergoing it through dialogue, if possible, with the parents and the child.

The Legal Newsletter


The legal newsletter of GAMS Belgium is intended for legal professionals, lawyers, judicial actors, or other organizations. Its objective? To delve into legal questions related to female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages, and other related violence.


Keyla Lumeka

Legal adviser

Brussels’ branch (FR) and Liège
+32 493 40 52 89

Elly Pauwels

Legal adviser

Namur’ branch
+32 492 35 80 18

Jente Konings

Legal adviser

Brussels’ branch (NL) and Flanders
+32 492 35 35 90