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Genital mutilation: around 11,000 people affected in Austria

Genital mutilation: around 11,000 people affected in Austria
February 6th is the day to fight against female genital mutilation.
Image: EPA

Up to 3,000 young girls are at risk of culturally determined forms of brutal violence. This was the result of a study carried out by the Medical University of Vienna in cooperation with the women’s health center “FEM Süd” on FGM/C, with data collected and merged in several federal states.

The study was commissioned by the Federal Chancellery to determine how many people affected by genital mutilation – according to the WHO there are 200 million girls and women worldwide – there are in this country. On the occasion of the International Day Against Genital Mutilation on February 6th, the first results have now been made public. Half of the women in Austria on whom FGM/C was performed come from Egypt, another third from Somalia. In general, women whose mothers come from a country where FGM/C is practiced are at risk. There are currently over 33,000 girls and women living in Austria whose roots lie in a country where FGM/C is documented. Of them, 10,320 have Austrian citizenship.

Education and prevention

In the fight against female genital mutilation, the Federal Chancellery set up a nationwide coordination office in 2022. The focus is on educational and prevention work, because the more knowledge there is about female genital mutilation, the better girls and women can be protected. The aim is to also include men, because measures to protect women in patriarchal communities can only be successful in the long term.

“FGM is a brutal form of violence against women and the victims often struggle with the physical and psychological pain of this crime their entire lives,” emphasized Women and Integration Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) at the weekend. Unfortunately, FGM has also become a “sad reality” in Austria, which only affects women with a migrant background, as the first figures from the new study show, said Raab. Genital mutilation is “a criminal offense and completely unacceptable.” After the creation of the nationwide coordination office, further projects and important steps were taken in the fight against female genital mutilation: “I would like to thank everyone involved and the experts for this important work to alleviate the massive suffering of women and girls. We must do everything “So that this form of culturally based violence can be combated and especially to protect young girls. For me, it is also important to increase the involvement of men in order to get to the root of the problem.”

FGM outpatient clinics in Linz and Graz

With our own FGM outpatient clinics in Linz and Graz, the aim is to ensure the most comprehensive care possible for affected women. In the previous year alone, the Coordination Office for FGM/C advised 159 women and girls affected or threatened by FGM/C in a total of 902 personal or telephone contacts. In addition, 108 workshops were held with 793 members of communities with a high incidence of FGM/C in the countries of origin. The aim is to provide information, raise awareness and remove taboos by imparting knowledge, it said in a press release at the weekend. The men-specific advice is aimed primarily at men with Arabic roots who are to be provided with low-threshold information about FGM/C.

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