International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February

Ensuring protection and care to people affected by female genital cutting

According to estimates, up to 15,000 girls or women living in Switzerland have undergone or are at risk of female genital cutting. They all have a right to protection and appropriate care. The Network against Female Genital Cutting Switzerland actively supports this. 6 February is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. 


A social worker contacts the national contact point of the Network against female genital cutting: She is supporting Mrs. A., who fled from an East African country to Switzerland with her daughters. Mrs. A is complaining of severe pain in the abdomen. Could it be that she has been cut? How should she broach the subject with her client? Are there specialised medical professionals in the region? 

Complex problems, diverse approaches to combat them

Many professionals are faced with such questions. The Network against female genital cutting Switzerland provides advice to people affected and to professionals. Since there is often a lack of the necessary expertise, professionals from the social work, asylum and health sectors are trained in dealing with the topic. In addition, the Network has a Website and supports the establishment of local contact points in the regions so that those affected can find easily accessible help. 

In 2012, Switzerland made female genital mutilation a specific criminal offence. However, more is needed than a ban: In order to break the taboo around the millennia-old tradition, awarenessraising work in the migration communities affected is necessary.  The Network works with around 50 men and women who regularly organise events in their communities. With a lot of patience and respect, they lay the groundwork of trust that is necessary to talk about the consequences of female genital cutting.

With a broad range of measures, the Network against female genital cutting Switzerland works to ensure the protection and care of girls and women who are at risk of or who have undergone female genital cutting. The causes and reasons behind female genital cutting are manifold, the justifications are numerous. Consequently, the approaches to combating is must also be varied.  

Protection and care must continue to be ensured

Women like Mrs. A. and her children have a right to protection and good care. The project of the Network against female cutting Switzerland, which was founded in 2016 by Caritas Switzerland, Terre des Femmes Switzerland, Sexual Health Switzerland and the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights, runs until the end of 2019.  

The Network is funded by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) through the Federal Government’s integration funding and by the Federal Office of Public Health as part of the National Programme on Migration and Health. To what extent the Network against female cutting Switzerland will continue to be supported will be decided in the middle of this year.

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