Etenesh Hadis Coordinator of the African Women Organisation;
Renate Brauner, Deputy Major Vienna, City Council for Women;
Mag.a Sonja Wehsely, City Council for Health;
Opening of the FGM Counselling Centre 2005
ADVICE - HELP - INFORMATION
It is estimated that up to 8,000 women and girls affected by genital mutilation live in Austria. The majority of them in Vienna. Especially with such sensitive issues as FGM, anonymity and confidentiality is a major concern for the women affected, which is why the counselling centre "Bright Future" offers a low-threshold service. The great advantage or prerequisite for exchange and counselling in connection with FGM and gynaecological issues is the necessary establishment of trust. The physical and psychological rehabilitation and the personal empowerment of the girls and women are only successful if the possibility of exchange takes place in an atmosphere of trust. Due to the increasing number of clients in the counselling areas such as FGM, but also in the areas of labour, trafficking in women, violence against women and girls, counselling and support will be further intensified.
For this we also need YOUR support!
The holistic approach with awareness campaigns and information events with multipliers from African countries are important milestones towards the elimination of FGM. In 2020, the points of the National Action Plan for the Prevention of FGM in Austria were particularly incorporated into the counselling and care work.
Giving back a piece of womanhood
"It is customary for the husband to open the bride by using his penis as a battering ram. The bride is chosen by his family and they make sure she is properly locked. But first the full bride price has to be paid. Fortunately, this did not happen to me because I was sent out of the country to study. Before I married a fellow student (fellow student), I went to a surgeon who opened me up under general anaesthesia. Usually it's an old woman from the husband's family who cuts the bride open with a knife - more like a razor blade lately - and then the new husband often has to pass through the bleeding wound to prevent it from re-closing.
When I got home, I attended the wedding of a very good friend, a beautiful woman. She had never been asked if she wanted to marry the stranger her father had chosen. She had to bear children without ever being asked; she was used like an object, behaved completely passively and did not revolt. She was basically dead - an ideal wife from the dominant male point of view of our society. I still feel a little bit, but I don't like sex; I keep wondering what it would be like to feel what my girlfriends at university feel and try to explain to me what I have lost forever.“
IT IS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH FGM.
EVERY EURO DONATED HELPS EVERY GIRL AND WOMAN TO BETTER MANAGE, CHANGE AND COPE WITH THEIR LIVES.
Help in the psychosocial field
Through our information and discussion events, our publications and public relations work, the psychosocial counselling service was able to reach approximately 3,900 people in the 2019 reporting period. 746 people took part in individual counselling as well as group counselling sessions with us during this period.
A total of 1,492 counselling sessions were conducted in the counselling centre, which only concern individual counselling and group counselling (events and home visits excluded). The medical counselling sessions (contacts) are not included in these 1,486 counselling sessions, but are listed separately under medical counselling.
There were 68 group counselling sessions, each attended by an average of 3-6 people and a total of 352 people. The group sessions covered the FGM field, but also family problems such as violence in the family and the field of work. The average duration of the group counselling sessions was 2.5 hours. 8 counsellors conducted the group counselling sessions. For group counselling sessions of up to 3 persons, 1 counsellor was present who also led the group; for group counselling sessions of 4 persons and more, at least 2 counsellors were present, one of whom led the group discussion. For group counselling sessions in which special FGM aspects were addressed in detail (e.g. psychological aspect, religion, culture, etc.) and in very difficult cases, several counsellors and experts in the respective fields were consulted.
A total of 1,424 individual counselling sessions were conducted, which lasted an average of 3.5 hours (incl. preparation and follow-up).
The topics in their diversity in the counselling interview:
- Questions about FGM in general
- Gynaecological diseases and FGM
- Pregnancy and birth preparation and FGM
- Being affected by FGM
- Sterility through/and FGM
- Sexuality and FGM
- Other health problems
PLEASE HELP GIRLS AND WOMEN TO BETTER MANAGE, CHANGE AND COPE WITH THEIR LIVES WITH FGM.
Help in the medical field
Medical counselling was provided without an interpreter in the following languages: Arabic, English or German. For up to 60 consultations we have so far called in an interpreter.
WHAT WE CAN DO!
For infibulation (WHO type 3), the option of defibulation, i.e. separation of the united labia and reconstruction of the labia after detailed counselling, is offered. Young girls and women are offered to come back if they start a partner relationship. This is an operation under general anaesthesia in hospital.
Other health problems are also explored and the patient is offered detailed information about treatment, as well as where and how to access it. Anonymity and confidentiality are a major concern of the patients for their visit to us. These and the low-threshold offer are the great advantages or the prerequisite for the exchange and counselling in connection with FGM and gynaecological issues, in order to be able to build up the necessary trust, but also hope. The physical and psychological rehabilitation and the personal empowerment of the girls and women are only successful if there is the possibility of exchange in a trusting atmosphere.
In addition, the holistic approach with education campaigns and information events with multipliers from African countries are important milestones in the elimination of FGM.
Complex medical counselling, usually very intimate, must be conducted competently, continuously and confidentially. To make it possible, YOUR DONATION is needed.
In this way, you help women and girls to protect themselves from mutilation.
But you also help women and girls who are already suffering from the consequences of mutilation to enjoy a new, painless quality of life.
PLEASE HELP WOMEN AND GIRLS IN NEED!
„FGM is not culture. FGM is torture“
Female genital mutilation is a shameful violation of the rights of children and women and is a catastrophic violation of their physical and mental health.
The number of girls and women who are victims or at risk of becoming victims is around 270,000 in the European Union, with the most affected countries being France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.
In addition, almost 50 per cent of healthcare providers face FGM complications and most of them - over 90 per cent - would never perform an FGM procedure. Eight European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK) now have specific laws banning all or some forms of the practice. Other European countries only have general laws prohibiting grievous bodily harm without specifically referring to FGM.
The EU Commission is convinced that merely denouncing female genital mutilation and condemning those who commit it would not bring about the necessary change. FGM will only disappear if people, including women, are convinced that they can abandon the practice without giving up significant aspects of their culture. Multi-faceted strategies are needed, including legislation and those aimed at training health and social workers. The dissemination of appropriate information highlighting the dangerous health consequences is another important tool.
PLEASE HELP US TO PROTECT WOMEN AND GIRLS FROM GENITAL MUTILATION!