Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

05.02.2017 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, has issued the following statement to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February 2017:

“Even in Germany, girls are at risk of having their genitalia mutilated either secretly in this country or abroad. They are often small girls whose external genitalia are partially or totally removed with knives or shards of glass without any kind of anaesthetic, thus exposing them to unbearable pain. All that remains is a sewn-up wound with a small opening for bodily fluids: many women and girls bleed to death during this barbarous procedure or die later from tetanus or during childbirth.

Female genital mutilation is a serious human rights violation. The victims are subjected to pain and suffering all their lives. It not only violates the right to physical and mental integrity; it is a misogynous practice, which serves to control and degrade women and girls.

To save future generations from this suffering, we have to work in the countries concerned, as well as in Germany, to end this misogynous and illegal practice. We will only succeed by protecting women and girls at risk and, at the same time, by encouraging and helping parents, doctors and the guardians of tradition, for example dignitaries and the authorities, to break down traditional structures and to combat the practice of genital mutilation.”

Background information:

The World Health Organization estimates that 200 million women and girls around the world have been the victims of female genital mutilation; every year around three million young girls are cut.

The practice is banned under a number of international human rights conventions and United Nations resolutions. It is illegal in many countries around the world, in Europe and in Germany. German penal law provides for comprehensive protection: under section 226a of the German Criminal Code, the mutilation of the outer genitalia of a female person carries a penalty of imprisonment of not less than one year. This also applies to offences committed abroad, regardless of the law in the country in question, if the perpetrator is German or if the crime was committed against a person whose place of residence or habitual abode was in Germany at the time of the offence.

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