Portugal demands clarity on Female Genital Mutilation

in News · 05-12-2013 15:10:00 · 0 Comments
Portugal demands clarity on Female Genital Mutilation

The State Secretary for Parliamentary Matters and Equality, Teresa Morais, has guaranteed that combating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a government priority, as is putting an end to all types of violence against women, and she said there should also be no room for doubt as to the punishment for such crimes.

“If the law is not clear enough, then it should be clarified; if the Istanbul Convention, which Portugal was the first country in the European Union to rectify in February this year, shows that this is a type of autonomous offence with regards to serious offences against physical integrity, then [the law] should be empowered [to deal with it]”, she said.
Speaking at the opening of a Euro-African Seminar ‘For the end of Female Genital Mutilation’, which took place in Lisbon, Teresa Morais stressed that FGM is a serious offence against physical wellbeing and therefore is a crime covered and punishable by Portuguese law as well as being covered by child protection laws.
“It seems to me that there can be no doubt that a child at risk of mutilation is a child in danger”, the State Secretary said, adding: “Let there be no excuses nor arguments for, whomever it may be, to say it is not a serious offence.”
Resuming the government’s main measures on the matter, Teresa Morais described FGM as “a severe violation of human rights that has the hallmarks of gender discrimination.”

She also addressed the new guidelines of a third programme of action to prevent and eliminate FGM, which is currently open for public consultation.
This programme, State Secretary Morias said, would be inserted into the national plan for preventing and combating domestic and gender violence, instead of being a satellite programme to the National Plan for Equality.
“And this will happen not because we have stopped seeing FGM as having its roots firmly planted in ancestral inequality, but because we are aiming, following the lines of the Istanbul Convention, to acknowledge the extreme form of gender violence that it consists of, which scars girls and women for the rest of their lives.”
Highlighting the importance of a greater investment in solid knowledge about the phenomenon and of more intense work carried out among the communities that it involves, Teresa Morais said the Programme’s “more pragmatic approach” will include eighteen new measures including upping the information available regarding the matter to religious leaders and key workers within immigrant communities.
“This is still a much obscured practice that we are faced with, requiring a complex approach, but I don’t think anybody can doubt that our democratic tolerance of cultural differences should end where crime and the violation of fundamental rights begins”, she concluded.


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