In 2018, updated research indicated that up to 41,000 women in The Netherlands had undergone Female Genital Mutilation. In Groningen, D66 councilor Wieke Palusma is calling for more research into the scope of the practice and its impact in the municipality.
By Hans de Preter
The number of young women being circumcised in The Netherlands is many times higher than initially thought, according to research by Pharos and the Erasmus Medical Center. Where that number was still estimated at 29,000 in 2012, it became clear in early 2018 that there were around 41,000 nationwide who had been subjected to the procedure. The number of girls at risk of mutilation is believed to be around 4,200.
D66 (the social liberal party) in Groningen was shocked by these national figures, and has submitted written questions to the municipal executive council about data on instances of FGM and at-risk girls in Groningen. Councilor Wieke Paulusma told the Groninger Internet Courant, “Female circumcision is horrible. We consider it a crime and a degradation, which is why we want to more about if it is happening to women in Groningen, if girls at risk and what policies are being implemented.”
The Dutch government defines FGM is as “an operation to remove the external female genitals for non-medical reasons”. The extremely painful practice, which is also known as infibulation, is typically prompted by a desire to control women’s sexual access and is believed to ensure their chastity.
The countries with a higher instance of FGM are Somalia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Iraq, and girls run the risk of being circumcised if they have a parent from one of those countries and travel there. Female circumcision is punishable in the Netherlands and has been prohibited by law since 1993, but it has only been actively pursued since 2006. As far as is publicly known, there have not been any convictions in connection to the crime.