– The first study to provide information about the number of women residing in Spain who come from countries where FGM is practised was carried out in 2002 (Kaplan, Merino, & Franch, 2002) and the latest in 2013 (Kaplan & Lopez, 2013).
– According to the most recent study, an estimated 16,869 girls from FGM-practising countries of origin live in Spain (Kaplan & Lopez, 2013).
– In 2015, the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality published a report on FGM in Spain along with a healthcare action protocol (Protocolo común de actuación sanitaria ante la mutilación genital femenina (MGF), 2015).
– Healthcare is the responsibility of Spain’s 17 Autonomous Communities, some of which are more advanced than others in terms of tackling FGM.
– According to the most recent Ministry report, the first case of FGM in Spain was detected at the beginning of 1993. However, the first case to result in a custodial sentence was in 2011. The Provincial Court of Teruel sentenced the parents of a girl who had been mutilated on the charge of deprivation of liberty, under Article 149.2 of the Criminal Code.
– Because FGM is a crime in Spain, judges can oblige girls under the age of 18 to receive medical check-ups, remove a child’s passport, prohibit a child’s exit from the country and require parents to sign a pledge not mutilate their daughters.
– However, the overall approach of Spain’s healthcare system where a girl is at risk of FGM is to use so-called preventive engagement.
There is no centralised register of FGM cases in Spain, nor have there been any official prevalence studies. In some Autonomous Communities, confirmed cases are registered through clinical histories and/or police records. For example, in Catalonia, the Department of Internal Affairs registered 216 cases in the last seven years, including 20 in 2015 (Memoria del Departamento de Interior de Cataluna, 2015).
However, only four national studies offer estimates of the number of women and girls in Spain from FGM-practising communities. According to the most recent study (Kaplan & Lopez, 2013), 57,251 women from FGM-practising countries (mainly Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Gambia, Guinea and Ghana) live in Spain. This includes 16,869 girls in the at-risk age group of 0-14—a number that, although significant, could plausibly be reached by an adequately resourced prevention programme. However, a sizeable unregistered migrant population means that the number affected by and at-risk of FGM is likely to be higher. FGM risk factors include a girl/woman’s nationality, community prevalence of mutilation, age and number of relations mutilated. Each of these elements should be carefully considered by healthcare professionals and social workers, in order to assess the danger of FGM (Velasco, 2000).
Main affected communities
Until the 1990s, FGM was widely considered a foreign problem to be addressed by development cooperation programs. Since the discovery of cases of FGM in Spain, however, Spanish institutions, healthcare professionals and the public at large have tried to respond to a new reality of preventing and detecting a complex and intimate practice.
According to the most recent study available, the Autonomous Communities with the most women from FGM-practising countries are Catalonia (18,122), the Community of Madrid (7,558), Andalucía (6,197), the Community of Valencia (5,135), Canarias (3,860), Aragón (3,195), País Vasco (3,171) and Baleares (2,921).
Figure 1. Distribution of female population from FGM-practising countries
Source: Kaplan, A. and López, A. (2013) Map of Female Genital Mutilation in Spain 2012. Applied anthropology 2. Barcelona: Wassu Foundation-UAB