► Nearly 19,000 girls of African origin residing in Spain currently at risk ►
Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) has called on the Spanish government to do more to combat the practice of genital mutilation of young girls in immigrant families with African origins who reside in Spain.
In a statement issued on the eve of the UN-sponsored International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation Tuesday, the PSOE said that Spain needs to increase its efforts to protect young girls and teenagers of African origin living in Spain, who are at risk of being sent back to their families’ homelands to undergo genital mutilation as part of traditional cultural practices.
According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation procedures are most often practiced under unsanitary conditions on teenage girls from several central African countries before they reach the age of 15, but in some cases are carried out on young girls and even infants soon after a mother stops breast-feeding. The practice is illegal under Spanish law and some African immigrant families resort to sending their children back to their country of origin to have the practice carried out.
An estimated 69,000 women and girls living in Spain come from countries where genital mutilation is practiced, including Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Ethiopia. Nearly a third of that number reside in Catalonia and Madrid and Andalusia are close behind, with large numbers of at-risk girls from immigrant families residing in those communities.
According to the PSOE, nearly 19,000 (some 16 percent) of female immigrants from the countries where genital mutilation is practiced are girls under the age of 14 and therefore most at risk of being sent back to their family’s country of origin by their families to have the practice performed.
The Spanish government needs to do more, the PSOE said in its statement, particularly in assigning resources to the areas of prevention, information and raising public awareness about the risk of genital mutilation facing young women and girls who reside in Spain. The opposition party called on the government to step up preventive “intervention actions with professionals and families of the communities from the countries that continue to carry out these practices, with the aim of radically eliminating the practice … from the lives of women, adolescents and girls”.
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