+++ News ticker +++ Minister Müller: increase in child and forced marriage renders fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) more difficult

06.02.2021 | BERLIN – Speaking about the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February Development Minister Gerd Müller said:

"We must stop this abhorrent practice that disrespects women. 200 million girls and women worldwide are suffering from the consequences of genital mutilation. This violation of human rights causes severe, life-long physical and mental trauma for the girls and women in question. It can lead to infertility, complications during childbirth, severe depression and even death."

"The fight against this cruel ritual was progressing far too slowly even before the crisis," Müller stated. "The COVID-19 pandemic is now exacerbating the situation. The lockdowns are making important awareness-raising impossible. In addition, there is a severe hunger and economic crisis. The result is that poverty is pushing more girls in forced or child marriage. According to UN estimates, the COVID-19 crisis could lead to an additional 13 million child and forced marriages by 2030.

We are addressing this issue through our global Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme, supporting people in terms of food security, in particular in crisis and conflict regions such as the Sahel region. And we are further increasing our efforts against this cruel form of violence against women. I visited communities in Sudan last year. People there have jointly decided to end female genital mutilation. These women are a role model. Because it takes tremendous courage to stand up against deeply-rooted traditions."

Female genital mutilation is also a problem in Germany. "According to estimates, there were more than 67,000 women in Germany in 2020 who have undergone FGM. These practices are prosecuted in Germany. But many of the girls and women still undergo the procedure when they visit their home countries," Müller said.

Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt, Somalia, Mali, Guinea and Sierra Leone are hotspots. The German Development Ministry is investing almost four million euros in the most affected countries to overcome FGM by funding, for instance, training for staff of public and civil society organisations and supporting awareness-raising campaigns in villages. Because in many families genital mutilation is a precondition for marriage.