The increasing migratory movements from Sub-Saharan Africa have created an ethnic reality, a geographic distribution and a size of population that places Spain in a privileged position to work for the prevention of FGM/C. In Wassu-UAB Foundation, we see prevention as all actions raising awareness of the consequences of the practice and changing attitudes and behaviors towards its abandonment, while at the same time, promoting integration and respecting cultural diversity, avoiding stigmatization and the construction of anomic identities which threaten the social harmony. This approach involves the empowerment of girls, women and their families, as well as the construction of intercultural sharing spaces.
Working for FGM/C abandonment, respecting cultural diversity.
With this perspective, we work closely with decision makers, advocating for policies and plans to be developed prioritizing a preventive approach in opposition to a police intervention. In an emergency, police intervention is determined by the need to act promptly, as it seeks to avoid damage regardless of the means. Therefore, actions do not take into account the process of individuals, families and communities in relation to the practice, with the risk of violating other fundamental rights and fall on a double victimization.
We also collaborate with institutions and professionals from multiple fields working with migrant populations, providing training and tools for prevention. Health services are a key component of our intervention, but we believe that FGM/C should be addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective and therefore work also with social and educational professionals. However, our studies revealed that, despite dealing with Sub-Saharan populations, professionals lack knowledge on this issue, which undermines their capacity to provide quality care and attention to girls, women and their families.
On one hand, we strive for increasing their understanding of the medical and socio-cultural aspects of FGM/C, helping them to comprehend the points of view and attitudes of the families. On the other hand, we seek to enhance their cultural competence and professional skills in order to carry-on with care and prevention activities. Workshops are designed according to the needs of the participants providing professionals with knowledge, tools and alternatives to enable them to work with the families, with knowledge, respect and sensitivity.
Putting our model into practice, the Badalona case:
Following an action research approach, efforts and resources are concentrated on FGM/C prevention. This preventive work is based on the training of professionals who, working in a coordinated network at the primary health care circuit, follow-up cases of girls at risk at municipal level and promote a positive change of attitudes among families who practice FGM/C. With a holistic perspective, focus is not exclusive on FGM/C; is the well-being of girls and their families that is highlighted.
This method has been evaluated with encouraging results: since its implementation, all girls who travelled to their countries of origin have returned to Spain without having FGM/C performed. It is worth mentioning that, before our intervention, five cases were sent to Court, while after implementing this model, no case has reached that stage. Currently, preventive intervention has become institutionalized in the primary health care sector, involving all professionals participating in this process.