The issue of genital mutilation and the need to protect young girls of migrant communities from this practice are making headlines in Switzerland, with several high-profile law cases.
On June 11th, 2008, a Judge of the Fribourg cantonal Court has given a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment, against a Somali citizen settled in the canton, on the charge of exposing her stepsister to genital cutting in Somalia. Since female genital mutilation (FGM) is not punished under Somalian law, Swiss Justice has based its condemnation on violation of the duty to assist and educate.
“Justice has sent out a clear message : be it in Switzerland or abroad, female genital mutilation is not tolerable and must be punished.” commented Paola Riva Gapany, Assistant-Director of IDE, during the Swiss French-speaking Television evening news.
Another much waited-for sentence will be the one concerning a mother and father, also of Somali origin, who had their daughter mutilated in Switzerland when she was two years. The Public Prosecutor has charged them with serious body damage. They face a sentence up to ten years imprisonment.
Another complaint has been filed in the canton of Geneva : it concerns two young girls.
Moreover, media denounce the case of a Nigerian women, arrived to Switzerland with her baby-daughter threatened to undergo mutilation. The asylum claim she has lodged was rejected by the two competent instances, leading to imminent deportation back to Nigeria. Federal authorities were summoned on this case, and explained that Nigeria has passed a law against female genital mutilation. According to them, protection accordingly falls under the responsibility of the country of origin.
The Swiss Parliament must also tackle a postulate investigating the relation between acceptance of asylum claims and threat of female genital mutilation.
Estimates set the number of mutilated women and girls living in Switzerland at 7’000, and thousand of young girls are the potential victims of the practice. Several cantons have set up prevention policies, notably by training intercultural mediators.
In 2007, IDE participated in making “Mutilated Women, Never More!” a documentary film breaking the silence on the legal, medical, and psychosocial aspects of FGM. A public success as awareness-raising tool, this film is available from the IDE (French – English – German).
Press links :
Swiss Television Report June 11th, 2008
Interview Paola Riva Gapany, TSR, June 11th, 2008
Further information :
Postulate by Swiss MP Maria Roth-Bernasconi (Fr)
Our Page Fight Against FGM
UNICEF Switzerland Report on FGM (2004)
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