Towards a consensus on female genital mutilation in the European Union


Main objective:

To examine problems surrounding FGM in the EU and to propose a consensus statement on FGM within member states of the EU.

Specific objectives:

To identify FGM resource groups (legal, medical and socio-cultural groups) in European Union member states
To study the degree of consensus among EU member states on medical, legal and socio-cultural aspects of FGM
To describe current legislation and its impact, and to propose methods of harmonising to achieve a unified legal stance
To describe current medical activities and to suggest a code of conduct
To understand socio-cultural differences and views and to integrate them into the European efforts towards eradication of FGM


Identification of public authorities, private associations, NGO's, women's groups, activist platforms, medical staff, socio-cultural workers, anthropologists, law enforcement and judicial bodies dealing with or interested in FGM within the EU member states
Development of  'resource-group-oriented' questionnaires
Description and/or evaluation of the scope of their activities
Assessment of the level of FGM-related problems within the EU
Development of summary tables representing the EU member states’ positions on medical, socio-cultural and judicial aspects of FGM
Preparation of background material for the expert meeting
Organisation of an expert meeting
Preparation of a meeting report and final report
Preparation of a baseline data bank


 A desk-study to examine medical, legal and socio-cultural aspects of FGM in Europe, to assess the level of FGM-related problems on these 3 levels in the EU and to produce a discussion paper and recommendations for the eradication of FGM to be submitted to the workshops in the expert meeting
A questionnaire was sent throughout Europe to gather information and opinions of NGO's, health professionals, legal experts, social workers, etc. concerning FGM. The output was used to produce summary tables of European member states concerning various opinions on FGM related issues and hence to study the degree of consensus among them
An expert meeting with international experts in the field was organised to discuss recommendations for the European Commission. All deliberations of these recommendations in the expert meeting have been incorporated in the formulation of the final recommendations, submitted to the European Commission.


Publication: "Proceedings of the expert meeting  on female genital mutilation in Europe, Ghent Belgium, November 5 - 7, 1998"
Publications: Discussion paper : Medical aspects of FGM. Leye, K Roelens, M Temmerman, International Centre for Reproductive Health
Discussion paper: Legal aspects of FGM. Legislation on international and national level, S Meuwese, A Wolthuis, Defence for Children International, section the Netherlands
Discussion paper: Socio-cultural aspects of female genital cutting, M de Bruyn, Royal Tropical Institute, the Netherlands
Baseline data bank with names, addresses and FGM-related activities of organisations/persons per European country.

Funding agencies

European Commission


Els Leye, Maria de Bruyn, Stan Meuwese, Marijke Van Hemeldonck, Marleen Temmerman


Maria De Bruyn (Royal Tropical Institute Amsterdam, the Netherlands); Stan (Meuwese, Defence for Children International, the Netherlands)


December 30, 1998 - December 30, 1999

Project status

Project closed

Team members

Ms. Marleen Temmerman




Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Series °2 Proceedings FGM expert meeting