Parents should face prison if they allow their daughters to be circumcised, says junior health minister Jet Bussemaker, according to Wednesday’s Volkskrant.
Bussemaker wants parents whose roots are in ‘high risk’ countries to sign a contract saying they will protect their daughters from being circumcised – or face going to prison.
The contracts would be signed before families visit countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, the paper says. If a medical examination on their return establishes that a girl has been circumcised, the parents will be sent to jail.
Genital mutilation of girls is illegal in the Netherlands. Bussemaker is discussing the implementation of the new regulations with the justice minister.
According to the junior health minister, a similar contract system in France is proving effective.
‘These parents are under enormous pressure from their family and community to circumcise their daughters. Such a contract is needed so they can say that they will be prosecuted if they go ahead with it,’ Bussemaker tells the Volkskrant.
The minister’s announcement follows a recent report on government policy to fight genital mutilation of girls over the past three years. The Volkskrant reported last week that the health department’s €3m budget to combat the practice has been ineffective.
According to Bussemaker, a confidential report states that 44 cases of girls being circumcised have been reported to the child abuse help line. As far as possible, the parents involved will be prosecuted, the paper says.
The number of girls in the Netherlands who have been circumcised is not known. The regional health departments say that estimates of 500 cases a year are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’, the Volkskrant said.
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