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Female Genital Mutilation in the Netherlands. Prevalence, incidence and determinants


This report contains the results of estimations of the number of women and girls living in the Netherlands in 2012, who have undergone female genital mutilation (fgm) or are at risk of fgm.


These estimations are based upon data about fgm prevalence in countries of origin, data about female migrant population in the Netherlands, information from focus group discussions and data from registration systems at Youth Health Care and the Advice and Reporting Centres for Child Abuse and Neglect.
Considering the large differences in fgm prevalence between, but also within the countries of origin, we focused on fgm at regional or provincial level in the countries of origin. Furthermore, we included age specific fgm data, since fgm among younger women is lower than among older women. A systematic review of other determinants that may explain differences in fgm prevalence has not yielded an unambiguous pattern that can be used in our estimations. Relations between determinants and fgm prevalence seem to vary at community level.


Of the number of women living in the Netherlands in 2012 and originating from countries where fgm is traditionally practiced (almost 70.000, 1% of the Dutch female population), an estimated 40% have undergone fgm. Next to that, 2.000 women originating from these countries live at the asylum reception centres (35% of the total number of women in the reception centres), of whom an estimated 74% have undergone fgm. In total, there are an estimated 29.120 women with fgm living in the Netherlands. The majority of these women fall within the reproductive ages. This requires from doctors and other health care workers skills to discuss this topic, proper knowledge of the relation between medical and psychosocial complaints and fgm, as well as knowledge of existing medical treatments or therapies.

FGM usually takes place between age 4 and 12. In order to estimate the risk that girls living in the Netherlands run of fgm, several variants are calculated. Girls younger than age 15 fall within the potential population at risk of being subjected to fgm. The resulting figures are compared with tentative registration data from Youth Health Care and the Advice and Reporting Centres for Child Abuse and Neglect. Based on that, we conclude that annually 40 to 50 girls living in the Netherlands, run a risk of fgm. For part of these girls the risk only gets real when they visit their countries of origin. Youth Health Care plays an important role in fgm prevention. Youth health physicians or nurses can discuss the topic during several consultations with the parents and child.


The relatively low risk that girls run is not only due to differences in norms and values between the Netherlands and country of origin. It is likely that this is also related to the increasing knowledge of the target group about medical and psychosocial complications as a result of fgm. This knowledge is gained through awareness campaigns and training in amongst others, the Netherlands. Especially important is the ‘enabling environment’:
prevention, law and legislation (the law plays a strong preventive role), child protection measures and risk taxations at Youth Health Care. All these determinants together favour a behaviour where fgm is not frequently being practiced anymore.

A concise report in Dutch is available as well: Vrouwelijke Genitale Verminking in Nederland: omvang, risico en determinanten. Beknopte versie van het onderzoeksrapport “Female Genital Mutilation in the Netherlands”.

pdf bestandFemale Genital Mutilation in the Netherlands. Prevalence, incidence and determinants (pdf, 2,27 MB) (via pharos.nl)

Exterkate, M. 92013). Female Genital Mutilation in the Netherlands. Prevalence, incidence and determinants. Utrecht: Pharos.