Understanding how to deal with female genital mutilation (FGM) among asylum seekers is a struggle. A coordinated national approach would help, say experts. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
In Switzerland it’s estimated that 14,700 girls and women have experienced or are threatened with FGM. Most come from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt. The practice is a human right violation and a criminal offence in Switzerland.
The Federal Office of Public Health and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) support various prevention and awareness measures against FGM, including a mediation service for the prevention of FGM run by the Caritas charity. But experts say coordinated preventative measures are lacking if the issue is going to be properly addressed by authorities.
At the end of October, the government announced that over the coming years health and migration authorities would contribute funding towards public awareness initiatives, counselling and prevention activities and the creation of a network against FGM run by various organisations.
According to the World Health Organisation, FGM includes all procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. These procedures are mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers and can cause severe bleeding and problems with urination. Later on it can cause cysts, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of stillborn births.