Members of communities practicing FGM tend to maintain the practice in order to uphold traditions, not to lose identity and often due to social pressure. This occurs despite the fact that they face two opposite perspectives: one coming from their culture of origin, where FGM allows girls to be accepted by the community and married, and the other coming from the host country’s culture, where FGM is considered a severe violation of human rights and is criminally punished. Prevention should lay on changing social norms and on changing the perception that FGM is a beneficial practice for women and girls, when it is harmful for their physical and mental health.
FGM prevention in EU countries has been conducted in partnership and in close cooperation by CSOs and institutions and has been mainly focused on the training of relevant stakeholders and outreach activities towards the general public. Less has been done with respect to migrant communities and victims or potential victims and their families. Education on FGM is exclusively done by specialized association, thus the need to make training and education more systematic, as part of education programs and systematic training for professionals in all sectors likely to be involved in FGM-related issues.
In Italy, in 2009, prevention initiatives (documentaries, handbooks) were funded through Law 7/2006 and developed by CSOs, mainly aimed at sensitizing members of FGM-practising communities, training other CSOs, social and healthcare services, educational institutions, citizens and policy makers about the social and cultural aspects of FGM. Funding instruments accompanying the implementation of the law constitute a good practice, although the allocation of these funds has progressively decreased through the years and financial instruments should be revised and enhanced.
In Belgium, strategies preventing FGM are developed through broad consultation involving hospitals, doctors, youth services, children health promotion, law enforcement agencies government, etc. One of the good practices are the guidelines, developed in 2011 by CSOs and funded by the Belgian Ministry of Health, for professionals working with communities likely to be affected by FGM (psychosocial workers, professionals in childcare facilities, teachers, lawyers and police) to better inform them on FGM and help them provide more effective support to families, more adequate healthcare, provide counselling and follow appropriate referral procedures.
In France, although funding is provided by regional and local authorities, FGM prevention programs rely mainly on CSOs. In the early ’90s a leaflet containing information about national legal provisions against FGM, developed jointly by CSOs and the Mother and Child Protection Service, was widely distributed and has been updated throughout the years. It has also been adapted, published and distributed in other countries, including Belgium. Governmental agencies have been involved in the prevention campaign, and specific guidelines were developed for health professionals who might encounter cases of FGM.