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Our Work in Germany

We have repeatedly been asked for help when African girls living in Germany are threatened with mutilation. Fast action is always required. An example:

Call for Help fromDresden

Shortly before Christmas 2002 we received a call from Dresden. The caller was afraid that the five-year old daughter of her Gambian neighbour was threatened with genital mutilation. The girl was to be brought to Gambia at the start of January 2003 for an initial two years, so that the mother could concentrate on her training as an elderly care nurse.

The fear is accurate and the danger is concrete: according to Amnesty International, almost 90% of all women in Gambia are victims of FGM. We immediately informed the police. Then we received another report from the concerned neighbour: the trip had reportedly been cancelled. Neither she nor we believed that. Annette Weber immediately called the airlines, asking to transfer the booking. Three appropriate flights were actually booked!

We quickly alerted the criminal investigation department and the emergency federal prosecutor in Dresden. At first there was doubt as to jurisdiction, as the mother and daughter are Gambians. Therefore, on the night of 23rd December, we sent a fax to Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD), Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. She is strongly committed against Female Genital Mutilation.

On the next day, the child was temporarily removed from the mother's care and the trip was prevented by a provisional injunction.

However, the case was not over. The mother, with the help of a lawyer, appealed against the decision of the Dresden Higher Regional Court to ban the young girl from travelling to Gambia permanently. The case finally ended before the family law panel at the Federal Court of Justice. Its decision was in favour of humanity: the mother's right to determine her child's place of abode was limited, i.e. she is not permitted to bring the child to Gambia. The genital mutilation threatened there is a breach of human rights and severe physical and psychological mistreatment, which is not inferior to substantial torture practices as grounds for asylum.

It is wrong to assume that Female Genital Mutilation is "only" a problem of far away countries and is not of interest to Germany. Thanks to immigration, FGM has long been a topic here as well. Africans often have their daughters mutilated in their countries of origin during holidays to the home countries!