In its fight to abandon female genital mutilation, one of the missions of GAMS Belgium is to raise to the political level the needs of the field. Our advocacy is based on our fieldwork and is done in consultation with other fieldworkers. For 2019-2020, we have established a list of priority claims.

Priority 1. Ensuring prevention and protection for all girls and women at risk of FGM

According to the latest prevalence study, more than 8,000 girls living in Belgium are potentially at risk of FGM.

  • Have a real national policy for the prevention and protection of girls at risk of FGM validated by the competent authorities
  • Develop a policy to protect women and girls in the context of family reunification

GAMS wishes to promote the establishment of a round table of experts in early childhood, sexual violence, children’s rights, ethics… Belgian and international, in order to define a common strategy. We would like this Belgian strategy to be based on scientific evidence and whose implementation is supported by the State.

GAMS wishes to contribute to strengthening the prevention of FGM through awareness-raising measures, targeting in particular parents and new arrivals.

Priority 2. Ensure high quality continuous, multidisciplinary support for women and girls who have been subjected to FGM all over Belgian territory

According to the latest prevalence study, more than 17,000 women living in Belgium have undergone FGM. These women have the right to quality, accessible multidisciplinary care, regardless of their origin, the language they speak, their administrative status or their place of life.

  • Integrate the issue of gender-based violence in general, in particular female genital mutilation and forced marriage, into the basic training of health, mental health and social care professionals throughout Belgium
  • Apply the Dublin III Regulation in a flexible, humane and supportive manner, including by recognising the vulnerability of women facing gender-based violence 1
  • Train reference persons in the relevant professions (focal points within their department to accompany/advise colleagues confronted with a situation of FGM)
  • Strengthen the partnerships of GAMS Belgium with the various reception services for women and girls following a request for international protection obtained
  • Ensure continuity of services so that each person can have quality multidisciplinary support
    • Long-term presence of GAMS Belgium and its actions in Flanders
    • Long term presence of GAMS Belgium and its actions in Wallonia
    • Strengthen the presence and actions of GAMS Belgium in the Brussels Capital region

GAMS Belgium requests that the issue of FGM be integrated into the basic curriculum of health and social professionals: gynaecologist, paediatrics-, general medicine, midwife, nurse, kinetic, sexologist, psychologist, social worker, educator, marriage counsellor, mediator, as well as police and magistrates, and also the designation and training of reference people in: hospitals (maternity units) and  travel clinics, SOS Enfants teams, ONE/K&G, in PSE/PMS and CLB, in SAJ, in major and minor prosecution services,  police services, and in the CPAS. We ask that gender-based violence be taken into account in requests for international protection.

In order to ensure continuity of services, we also ask that field associations, including GAMS Belgium, be able to benefit from structural funds allowing the stability of the team by acquiring more subsidies intended for the creation and the sustainability of certain positions. In order to ensure geographic coverage, we want to perpetuate the presence of GAMS Belgium in the Flemish and Walloon regions, in particular through the establishment of new offices.

Priority 3. Ensure effective protection for women who have fled forced marriage

Women who have fled forced marriage currently enjoy little protection in Belgium as their asylum application is frequently rejected.

  • Ensure recognition of forced marriages as gender-based violence
  • Train professionals concerned with the issue of forced marriages
  • Promote a gender approach in handling requests for international protection
  • Promote a network of people working on the issue of forced marriages in Flanders and Wallonia

Institutions processing applications for international protection and professionals must receive adequate information and training on gender-based violence, including forced marriage.

Networking around the subject of forced marriages must be strengthened, particularly in Flanders.

Priority 4. Ensure a positive and non-stigmatising representation of women affected by FGM and forced marriages

  • Develop the perception of FGM and forced marriage as gender-based violence and not as cultural specificities
  • Reduce stereotypes and preconceived ideas of which women affected by FGM are victims
  • Build bridges between FGM and other harmful practices for the mental and physical health of women and / or children
  • Integrate the issue of female genital mutilation and forced marriage into EVRAS sex education sessions

GAMS Belgium wishes to work to strengthen the perception of FGM and forced marriage as gender-based violence, not cultural specificities, in particular with regard to professionals and the general public.

Strengthen our support for associations working for the rights of others to whom these kind of practices are imposed by associating with projects and actions.

We wish to continue to highlight the links between FGM and other practices for modifying the external genital organ: intersex genital mutilation, male circumcision, cosmetic genital surgeries, etc.

We want to integrate the prevention and detection of FGM in early childhood into a broader programme of prevention and early identification of sexual violence in children via PES / CLB and schools and strengthen the integration of FGM and forced marriage in the relational, emotional and sexual Education in schools.

In the run-up to the Belgian federal legislative elections, on May 26, 2019, GAMS Belgium published a plea for an improved policy to take into account female genital mutilation in Belgium. We also supported the demands of several associations and collectives. More information here

1 Strategic health promotion plan 2018/2022 of the Brussels Francophone government