The Cypriot national action plan (NAP) on violence against women does not specifically address FGM. However, it does include a series of measures to tackle gender-based violence in general, including information campaigns aimed at highlighting the law and encouraging the reporting of violent crimes against women, as well as educating police, health practitioners, judges, lawyers and other professionals.
OTHER NATIONAL POLICY DOCUMENTS
FGM first emerged as a policy issue in 2003, when the subject was raised in the House of Representatives as one that should be specifically addressed by criminal law.
In 2014, the Ombudsman’s Office released a position paper on the legal and institutional framework related to FGM in Cyprus, presenting the practice in terms of violence against women and as a violation of human rights. This paper has served as a useful advocacy tool, outlining relevant legal frameworks in Cyprus and Europe.
The 2014-17 NAP on gender equality released by the National Machinery for Women’s Rights (part of the Ministry of Justice and Public Order) encompasses issues of particular relevance to FGM. In particular, the plan calls for the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women (Istanbul Convention) to be incorporated into Cypriot law.
There are currently no FGM-specific multidisciplinary guidelines or medical protocols on the protection, support and care of FGM-affected and at-risk women and girls. However, UNHCR Cyprus and the Asylum Service (Ministry of Interior) follow the UNHCR guidelines, in addition to the following EU Directives transposed in Cyprus:
- EU Qualification Directive (EU Directive 2011/95/EU-recast)
- EU Reception Conditions Directive (EU Directive 2013/33/EU)
- European Asylum Procedures Directive (EU Directive 2013/32/EU)
- EU Directive on the rights of the victims of crime (EU Directive 2012/29/EU)
The EU Qualification Directive has been incorporated in Cypriot Asylum Law (L. 6(l)/2000, amended 2009), while the EU Reception Conditions Directive and the European Asylum Procedures Directive are in the process of being ratified by the House of Representatives. However, the extent to which these directives are implemented has yet to be established.
In addition to the Future World Centre and the UNCRC’s Hope for Children referred to above, a number of Cypriot institutions and CSOs are involved in efforts to tackle FGM.
The Cyprus University of Technology is currently coordinating a major EC-funded programme, United to End FGM (UEFGM)—a knowledge platform for professionals involving 12 European partners. The programme builds on an earlier UEFGM project to develop an e-learning tool for health and asylum professionals (www.uefgm.org), which was led by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) between 2012 and 2016. The online professional development course United to END FGM brought together over 2,000 professionals from around the world, including midwives, gynaecologists, nurses, health visitors, medical/nursing students and NGOs, as well as asylum officers, and reception-centre staff and social workers. The project was funded by the END FGM European Campaign and supported by UNHCR.
MIGS is a founding member of the END FGM European Network (www.endfgm.eu), raising awareness of and providing training on FGM for policymakers and professionals in Cyprus and abroad. MIGS also organised professional development training for Cypriot health professionals in 2012. The programme, entitled Female Genital Mutilation: Challenges to Health Care Services in Europe and in Cyprus, was facilitated by expert trainers with the aim of improving the quality and effectiveness of the health support system for women and girls affected by FGM.
MIGS also actively lobbies policymakers on a range of issues related to FGM, including efforts to ‘engender’ the European Asylum Support Office and the pan-European movement to combat FGM.
In 2015, the Institute organized a roundtable discussion on FGM in Cyprus and Europe, with the aim of promoting dialogue and synergies between relevant government agencies and CSOs, as well as a workshop on integrating efforts to end FGM in development projects. The workshop, entitled Addressing FGM in Development Programmes and Projects, was funded by EuropeAid under the auspices of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and involved participants from various state and non-state actors in Cyprus.