International and European conventions
The Netherlands implements all international and European conventions related to (the risk of) FGM (See http://www.pharos.nl/information-in-english/female-genital-mutilation/facts-and-figures/international-developments/policy-and-law-in-europe/chronological-overview).
FGM is punishable as a form of child abuse under Articles 300-304, 307 and 308 of the Dutch Penal Code, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 12 years or a fine of up to 76,000 euros. In the event that parents themselves carry out FGM on their daughter or a child over whom they exercise parental authority or whom they care for or raise, the term of imprisonment may be increased by one third (Article 304, sub 1). They are also punishable if they allow and/or support the procedure being performed, order it, pay for it, provide the means for it and/or assist the cutter during FGM. These acts are considered soliciting, abetting or co-perpetration under Dutch criminal law (Articles 47 and 48).
- Since 2006, it has been possible to prosecute someone for carrying out FGM abroad, if the suspect has Dutch nationality or is a permanent resident of the Netherlands.
- Since 1 July 2009 the limitation period has been extended, such that a woman between the ages of 18 and 38 can report having undergone FGM at a younger age.
- In 2013, the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure were amended to increase the scope for criminal prosecution in cases of forced marriage, polygamy and FGM. With regard to FGM, cases of FGM performed abroad are punishable in the Netherlands where the victim is a Dutch citizen or permanent resident, even if the offender is a foreign national and/or not a resident of the Netherlands.
Child protection aw
Under Dutch Youth Law, child abuse is defined as “any kind of a minor-threatening or violent interaction of physical, psychological or sexual nature that parents or other persons to whom the minor is in a relationship of dependency or lack of freedom, by means of active or passive intrusion, causing serious harm or threatens to prejudice the child in the form of physical or psychological injury” (Article 1.1, Jeugdwet). This includes FGM.
Dutch law provides opportunities for early intervention to prevent harm to a child. The threat of FGM can be a factor considered by a juvenile court in putting a girl under supervision (onder toezicht stellen, OTS—Article 1, paragraph 255, sub 1, ABW). In the case of an imminent threat of FGM, the juvenile court may, under extreme circumstances, impose a heavier child protection measure such as ‘home outplacement’ (Uithuisplaatsing— Article 1, 265b of the Civil Code).
A girl or woman can qualify for temporary residence in the Netherlands if she is at risk of FGM in her country of origin (Article 29, paragraph 1 b of the Aliens Act, 2000). Article 29 of the Aliens Act refers to Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), which is transposed in the 2000 Aliens Act, paragraph C 3.2. For a girl or woman to be eligible for a residence permit, she will have to demonstrate that
– she is at risk of FGM
– country-of-origin authorities cannot, do not want to or do not offer protection to those who oppose FGM
– she will be unable to escape the risk of FGM in her country of origin
Professional confidentiality (code of conduct, mandatory reporting)
- Disciplinary action: Health-care providers who participate in FGM can be tried under medical disciplinary law. The bulletin ‘Vrouwelijke genitale verminking’ (IGZ, 2010), produced by the Inspectorate for Health Care, brings together relevant legislation and standards regarding FGM, stating that care providers should not perform FGM or reinfibulation, on minors or adults.
- Reporting Code: Since 1 July 2013, organisations and self-employed professionals are required to abide by a reporting code, as stipulated under the law on Mandatory Reporting of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, which includes the prevention of FGM. The reporting code helps professionals such as doctors, teachers and youth-institution staff to respond early and appropriately to signs of mistreatment in the home. When confronted with a suspicion of impending or actual FGM, professionals should act according to the ‘roadmap’ relevant to their reporting code.