HC Deb 03 March 2000 vol 345 cc450-1W
Ms McCafferty

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the Government's policy is on measures to eradicate violence against women, with particular reference to the practice of female genital mutilation in developing countries. [111295]

Clare Short

Violence against women is one of the most shocking manifestations of women's inequality. We are working to ensure that women's empowerment and equality are actively pursued in the mainstream of all development activities.

Female genital mutilation is a serious health issue. It is also a violation of the rights of women to live free from violence. Our policy is to try to persuade countries where the practice occurs to take steps to reduce and eventually eliminate it. We encourage Governments to strengthen laws which prohibit female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices, such as dowry deaths. We also work with women's organisations to strengthen their capacity to address female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices. We have supported NGO projects to train health workers in a number of countries, including Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, to prevent and manage health complications related to female genital mutilation.

We have also made a major contribution to the Trust Fund on Violence Against Women run by UNIFEM, which provides support to local women's organisations working on issues of violence against women throughout the world. We also work to combat the effects of violence against women through our bilateral programme in more than a dozen poor countries.