Expatica news

Minister promises action on female circumcision

23 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst promised on Wednesday to raise the issue of female circumcision in the Cabinet again following a call to implement regular examinations of school children in a bid to stamp out the practice.

The Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Commission said school doctors should examine girls at age six, nine and 13 for signs of abuse. Currently, only boys are examined to ensure that their testicles have dropped.

About 50 girls who live in the Netherlands are taken to a foreign country for circumcision every year. There are about 20,000 girls listed as being among the at-risk group.

The commission said the examination of every child would speed up the detection of abuse. Family health clinics should carry out regular checks and be obliged to report any signs of abuse, it said.

Hoogervorst said he was prepared to discuss the issue again and was in favour of compelling health professionals and child abuse centres to report acts of female circumcision, news agency ANP reported.

But the minister refused to confirm if he was prepared to invest the EUR 10-14 million needed to carry out the inspection and public information campaign. The results of proposed pilot schemes in Amsterdam and Tilburg will be assessed first.

Overturning an initial Cabinet refusal, Hoogervorst is prepared to investigate making a separate law banning female circumcision, which is currently regulated under crimes of abuse. The commission claims a separate law will give a more definite signal to parents.

Hoogervorst said that the signal was important, but there was no government intention to jail parents for an extended period of time. He said some parents have their daughters circumcised based on parental love.
The Liberal VVD minister hopes that female circumcision can be completely eliminated from the Netherlands over the next five to 10 years. Female circumcision among risk groups, such as those from Somalia and Ghana, occurs less frequently here than in the land of origin.

The various sorts of female circumcision are also less gruesome than those carried out in African nations. The complete removal of labia and the stitching closed of a woman’s vagina occurs less frequently in the Netherlands.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news