In view of the International Women’s Day and the Cyprus EU Presidency, Dr. Christine Loudes, Director of the END FGM European Campaign, participated in a meeting of the Cyprus House Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities between Women and Men on 5th March 2012. Committee members discussed with representatives of Amnesty International and the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) as well as representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the Asylum Service, ways in which Cyprus can support the pan-European effort to ombat Female Genital Mutilation.
Dr. Loudes informed the House Committee that the first European-level study is currently being carried out by the European Institute of Gender Equality, on the prevalence of FGM in the EU as well as on existing legislation and policies to combat FGM, with a view to map the current state of play and make recommendations to policy makers. The research results are expected to be published during the Cyprus Presidency Committee members were urged to make use of the research results in promoting further European action on the issue.
Despite the lack of official statistics it is estimated that, in 2010, some 1,500 migrant women from countries where female genital mutilation is widely practiced were living in Cyprus. Thus, Cyprus should focus on providing protection and support to women affected or at risk of FGM though specialized, gender-sensitive quality health and asylum services. According to Ms. Laura Iacovidou, representative of the Asylum Services, two migrant women in 2011 were found to have undergone FGM.
Ms Maro Varnavidou, Secretary General of the National Machinery for Women’s Rights, emphasized the importance of legal framework in Cyprus where the practice of FGM is criminalized under the Criminal Code. She also stressed the importance of focusing on prevention, as well as victim support and protection. She responded positively to the suggestion of including FGM on the agenda of the conference on domestic violence against women organized by the Ministry of Justice that will take place during the Cyprus Presidency.
During the meeting the House Committee made a number of commitments including:
- To promote the recommendations of the campaign through the Cyprus EU Presidency;
- To send a letter to European Commissioners Ms. Viviene Reding and Ms. Androulla Vassiliou, to help further promote the issue during the Cyprus Presidency and to encourage European-level cooperation to address the issue.
- To promote adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence by Cyprus. The Convention provides a comprehensive legal framework to prevent all forms of violence against women, including FGM.
During her visit to Cyprus, Dr. Christine Loudes also met with the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Ms. Sotiroula Charalambous, who also committed to promote the recommendations made the END FGM Campaign in cooperation with the Ministry of the Justice and Public Order.
To read Dr Christine Loudes’ Speech made at the House Committee Meeting click here.
To read MIGS press release click here.