In mid-June, Clarion Project reported that a Swedish school discovered that immigrant girls in the school had been subjected to a severe form of female genital mutilation (FGM). Since March, school health services in the small Swedish town of Norrköping saw 60 girls who had been mutilated, including close to 30 girls from one class alone.
Although specific information was not available about the girls at the time, it was assumed that the girls were second generation immigrants from Somalia– meaning that many of the girls were cut during the summer vacation when girls are taken to their countries of origin for the procedure under the pretense of a family visit.
Clarion Project has now learned that, despite the fact that FGM is against the law in Sweden and that according to the “Secrecy Act,” professionals within Sweden's Social Service are obligated to report cases of FGM to the police, no such report has ever been filed in the above cases.
Therefore, no investigation has taken place and no proceedings against the parents of the girls have been instigated.
In fact, since Sweden became the first country in Europe to criminalize FGM – the crime incurs a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for infringement – no case has ever been brought to prosecution, meaning that parents have a free reign to mutilate their daughters with no fear of repercussions.
In the case of the 60 girls, The Task Force for Effective Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation, a non-profit children rights organization, charged that there are two authorities in Sweden at fault.
Firstly, the Task Force named the School Health Service, who initially discovered the mutilations. When asked, the head of the service, Monika Sannebrink, told the Task Force that it was her job to merely report the cases to the Social Service, however, Task Force reports that she was “not willing or not able to explain why she did not report to the police as well.”
Swedish law clearly stipulates that “anyone [professional or private individual] who fails to report the performance or attempt of FGM to the police is punishable in accordance with section 23 of the penal code.”
The second institution charged by the Task Force as failing to comply with the law is the Social Service. Again, the manager of the service, Thomas Leijon, did not explain why the service did not report the cases. However, Sannebrink wrote to the Task Force saying that: “The social services determined that the FGM took place before the victims migrated to Sweden and because of that it is not punishable by Swedish law.”
The Task Force charges that it is the job of the police to investigate and determine if this were the case, explaining that it may still be possible to prosecute the parents even if the parents mutilated their daughters before they immigrated to Sweden.
The cases of the mutilated girls come to light due to a pilot project for which the small Swedish city of Norrköping was chosen. The project included the medical examination of the girls at the school.
The Task Force explains: “While it is obvious that regular medical controls of the girl’s intactness are the key to consistently identify the victims of FGM, these check-ups are still not common in Sweden.”
Moreover, in 2010, the Swedish municipality of Uppsala was convicted by a federal court to pay 6,000 Euros ($8,000) compensation for ordering the examination of a girl against the will of her parents due to the suspicion of that she had been subjected to FGM. The court awarded the payment saying that the examination was a “discriminatory act.”