The government of President Pedro Sánchez has added its voice to non-governmental organizations working to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation (GM) among Spain’s African immigrant communities.
The Sánchez government’s newly appointed Secretary of State for Migration, Hana Jalloul, told a conference organized by Spain’s Union of Family Associations (UNAF) Monday that there remains much to be done to raise awareness and to combat the custom of African immigrant families sending their daughters back to their home countries at puberty for the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the girls’ external genitalia.
Jalloul told the conference, which was organized on the eve of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation set to be observed worldwide on Thursday, that the practice constitutes “extreme violence” that serves to subjugate women from the time of puberty throughout their entire lives.
Her words come just days after more than a dozen non-governmental organizations working with African immigrant women in six of Spain’s regional autonomous communities announced the launch of a new umbrella group to coordinate efforts to combat the practice, known as the Red Estatal Libres de MGF (“National Network Free of FGM”).
Female genital mutilation is practiced in about 30 countries worldwide, principally in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Wassu Foundation at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, an estimated 70,000 immigrant women and girls in Spain come from countries where FGM is practiced, about 18,000 of them under the age of 14 years. Catalonia is the autonomous community that tops the list of those Spanish communities with female immigrants originating from countries where FGM is known to be carried out on young girls.
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Founding member organizations of Spain’s new include the Association of Guinean Women of Madrid, the Friends of African People Association (KARIBU), the Intercultural Women’s Association of Mauritania (DIMBÉ), the Federation of Progressive Women, the WASSU-UAB Foundation, Médicos del Mundo (Spanish affiliate of Médecins du Monde), Módulo Auzolán, Mujeres entre mundos, Save a Girl, Save a Generation, Sunu Gaal, the Union of Family Associations (UNAF), as well as the Municipality of Bilbao, the University of Murcia and the Institut Catalá de Salud (Catalan Health Institute).
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