Vienna, 6 February 2007 Press release

Plassnik: Zero tolerance


International Day against Female Genital Mutilation

Vienna, 6 February 2007 - "Violence against women is a human rights violation, and, shockingly, it can be found in every culture and social stratum. Female genital mutilation is a part of it. It is a cruel form of violence against women that is rooted in traditions and not in any religion. This fact was also pointed out by religious leaders last November in Cairo," said Plassnik in response to the "International Day against Female Genital Mutilation," an initiative by African NGOs which is also supported by Suzanne Mubarak.

"The employment against traditional violence and respect for other cultures go hand in hand. We must fight for this together; efforts to raise awareness and bring about a change in thinking can only come from the societies concerned, supported by us," said the Foreign Minister, who also emphasised the importance of the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter of Human Rights, the implementation of which is being pursued by the African Union. The Maputo Protocol explicitly calls for the prohibition of female genital mutilation.

"What is important to me is to support concrete initiatives in the countries concerned which make it possible to help eliminate female genital mutilation. Under the auspices of the Austrian development cooperation we are supporting the so-called Gender Office of the African Union, which introduces supra-regional initiatives and promotes legislation in this area in the Member States, as well as the UN organisations active in this field," concluded Plassnik.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549. 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213