Policy framework

The following table provides details of Dutch national action plans and policy documents related to FGM.

1993Government issues official statement prohibiting all forms of FGM, on the grounds that the practice contravenes the prevailing view in the Netherlands regarding the equality and social position of women. All forms of FGM are regarded as serious, irreversible forms of bodily injury, entailing a high risk of physical and psychological effects.
2005Council for Public Health and Health Care (RVZ) publishes advice on how to effectively combat FGM in the Netherlands.
 Cabinet issues position paper accepting many of the RVZ recommendations, adopting a two-track policy of promoting prevention and upholding the statutory prohibition of FGM, using a ‘chain approach’ involving multi-agency action at different levels (see below).
 Multiagency/chain approach

The chain approach involves the collaboration of a range of institutions to prevent, protect against, prosecute and provide services addressing FGM, guided by sector-specific protocols and other instruments. Participating institutions include the Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN), Pharos, public and youth health services (GGD’en), medical professionals, child-protection institutions, child abuse advice and reporting points, and key members of FGM-practising communities and community-based organisations. Initial engagement is at the grassroots level, via community members committed to ending all forms of FGM. These individuals work in the community, sharing information about FGM in meetings and home visits, as well as acting as a liaison between practising communities and professionals.

2013EIGE publishes a fact sheet about the Dutch policy in the field of FGM,

Current situation and trends of female genital mutilation in the Netherlands.

Multidisciplinary guidelines/protocols

The following table outlines multidisciplinary guidelines and protocols on FGM in the Netherlands.

ProtocolsModel action protocol for the Veilig Thuis organisations (domestic violence and child abuse hotline)

Model protocol on medical care for women and girls who have undergone FGM (replacing the earlier Model protocol on medical care for women and girls with female genital mutilation). This is now a multidisciplinary guide to the care of women with FGM, developed by members of SRH professional organisations, FSAN (for the patient perspective) and Pharos.

Institutions (roundtables, working groups, ministerial committees, etc.)

The following table provides an overview of institutional developments related to FGM in the Netherlands.

1993-2005In the absence of a national framework or policy on FGM, a number of NGO-led initiatives are launched, including
 • National information and consultation point on FGM (Pharos, 1995-97)
 • National campaigns aimed at the Somali community (FSAN, 1996-97)
 • Radio report on ‘holiday circumcisions’ in Somalia (1999)
 • ‘Platform approach’ to FGM established (2000)
 • Project ‘From Policy to Practice’ (Pharos/FSAN, 2000-02)
 • Project ‘Network of key persons and contacts on female circumcision’ (FSAN/Pharos, 2003-04)
2006-09Ministry of Health commissions six-city pilot project, ‘Preventing FGM’
 Additional support extended through 2007 ‘Beschermd en weerbaar’ (Protected and resilient) policy brief, focusing on forms of violence such as FGM in dependent relationships
 Advice and Reporting Centres on Child Abuse (AMK) data indicate that 44 requests for advice and reports on FGM are received by AMK and Council for Child Protection between July 2007 and February 2008
2010-11Nationwide prevention project rolled out, involving the following partners:
 • GGD Netherlands (national coordination, quality assurance and rollout of the preventive approach to FGM in youth health care system, including health education in refugee centres)
 • FSAN/VON (national rollout of FGM-prevention activities by self-help organisations and key persons, including group education in asylum centres)
2010-presentNational consultation on FGM with representatives from FSAN, Pharos, Ministry of Health, Public Health Offices (GGD/GHOR), and domestic violence and child abuse hotline (Veilig Thuis)
2006-presentPlatform 06/02 marking Zero Tolerance Day, including FSAN, Pharos, Defence for Children, Plan Netherlands and VON
ResearchVeiled Pain (2010): http:/www.pharos.nl/documents/doc/webshop/veiled_pain.pdf; Prevalence study (2013): http://www.pharos.nl/nl/kenniscentrum/algemeen/webshop/product/201/female-genital-mutilation-in-the-netherlands-prevalence-incidence-and-determinants
 New risk countriesThere is now increased awareness in Europe that FGM occurs in the Middle East and Asia, as well as in Africa—confirmed by Pharos’s studies of women of Indonesian origin (a sizeable community in the Netherlands) in 2014 and of Syrian refugees in 2016.

Community engagement

 1993-99The Netherlands is a multi-cultural society. As the number of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers entering the Netherlands has increased, so too has knowledge of practices such as FGM. One of the largest FGM-practising communities in the Netherlands comes from Somalia. A study of Somali women in refugee camps in the Netherlands in the 1990s resulted in one researcher recommending that medicalisation or a “milder” form of FGM be permitted within the community, causing uproar among many women’s organisations, particularly African women’s groups. In 1993 the Dutch government responded by prohibiting all forms of FGM in the Netherlands.

In order to inform the Somali community of the new law against FGM and to break down taboos around the practice, in 1996-97 the Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN) launched the information campaign “Save your daughter from the pain of FGM”.

In September 1999, a Somali mother broke her silence on Dutch radio, recounting how her daughter had been circumcised against her will while on holiday in Somalia. Her story renewed public and political commitment to eradicating FGM.

In 1999, FSAN and Pharos began their cooperation to end FGM, launching the 2000-02 project ‘FGM in the Netherlands: From policy to practice’. The project aimed to promote prevention and education, by increasing discussion of FGM within the Somali community and the Dutch health care sector, and to foster dialogue between the two.

 2003-09From 2003-04, FSAN and Pharos trained key figures from the Somali community and regional contact persons. In 2005 the ‘FGM in the Netherlands’ project was expanded into the Sudanese community, with key figures trained to initiate a door-to-door campaign against FGM in the Netherlands.

FSAN’s 2005-07 IDIL (complete/intact/volmaakt) project, subsidised by the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (Department of Emancipation) aimed to

  • share FSAN’s knowledge and experience with other African organisations in the Netherlands
  • encourage and promote the participation of imams and Koranic school teachers in the fight against FGM.
  • strengthen the involvement of youth against FGM, through debate and discussion

Over 2006-09, Dutch government policy on FGM intensified, with a focus on prevention, law enforcement and awareness-raising campaigns among practising communities in pilot cities. FSAN coordinated and supported a range of African-community organisations, training key figures and professionals, offering a helpdesk to assist and advise key figures and stakeholders interested in ending FGM, and conducting awareness-raising and information-sharing activities for newly-arrived refugees/asylum-seekers, particularly in the east of the country, including developing educational materials (e.g. flyers and DVDs) in cooperation with refugee centre public health services.

 2009-11In November 2009 the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare & Sports nominated National FGM Ambassadors from practising communities of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia, with a view to strengthening community engagement in the battle against FGM. The Ambassadors’ work included a study tour of Ethiopia and Sierra Leone to promote better communication and knowledge transfer.
 Over 2010-11, the pilot-city project was rolled out nationwide, including the following activities

  • FSAN and refugee organisation (VON) launched Say No to FGM campaign, through awareness meetings in several cities and at a centre for asylum-seekers
  • national FGM Ambassadors actively involved in grassroots-level meetings
  • training and up-grading of courses for professionals and key community figures
  • parental Declaration against FGM developed by municipal health care authority (GGD Nederland), signed by Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and Ministry of Justice, along with other organisations and institutions
  • training of 10 key senior figures by core figures (transfer of knowledge), overseen by municipal health services (GGD) and FSAN, involving delivery of FGM information sessions in refugee centres and other regional and local initiatives