Some acts of persecution are gender-specific. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is included as an act of persecution in the Act of December 1980 regarding the access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreigners.
Assessment of an asylum application
The CGRS distinguishes between
- a women or a girl claiming to be at risk of undergoing FGM
- (one of) the parents claiming their daughter under 18 is at risk of undergoing FGM.
When an applicant claims that she, or her daughter, is at risk of FGM, the CGRS can grant refugee status, in the latter case to the daughter and the parents. Each case is examined individually.
To this end, the CGRS first examines the personal and family situation of the applicant (education level, ethnic origin, family history in relation to FGM, etc.). The CGRS also takes into account the current situation in the country of origin (the prevalence of FGM, the attitude of the authorities, the possibility of resisting social pressure,...).
No absolute protection
Refugee status does not necessarily offer absolute protection against FGM. There is also a risk of undergoing female genital mutilation in Europe, often by family members.
For this reason, the CGRS has set up a monitoring procedure to ensure that a girl will not undergo FGM after being granted refugee status.
The parent(s) will be summoned by the CGRS before the decision to grant refugee status is taken.
During this interview, the CGRS will inform the parents
- about parental responsibilities with respect to their daughter
- that female genital mutilation is banned in Belgium and punished by law.
The parent(s) then have to sign a ‘declaration on honour’, by means of which they commit themselves to send once a year to the CGRS a medical certificate stating that their daughter has not undergone any form of female genital mutilation.
Reviewing refugee status
If the Commissioner General is made aware that the circumstances justifying refugee status do no longer exist (i.e. when the daughter has undergone female genital mutilation), he has the authority to review the refugee status of the parents and their daughter and to withdraw or cancel their refugee status.
If he is aware that a minor has undergone female genital mutilation since her arrival in Belgium, the Commissioner General will inform the Public Prosecutor.