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Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Congress, Bilbao-2005

Sergeant Rosa Negre
Regió Policial Girona - Cos de Mossos d’Esquadra
FEMININE GENITAL MUTILATION

The Catalan Autonomous Police became in contact with this subject for the first time in 2000. At that moment, and because many people were coming from Subsaharian countries, we thought that it was necessary to collect information in order to know if the ethnias that were establishing in Catalonia were people that have incorporated tradition in their habits. From then we know that the majority of people that are living in Catalonia and comes from those countries belong to ethnic groups that practise the mutilation to the girls, so the daughters of these families, also Catalan families, can be involved in risk situations.

From real risky cases that were put on the table in 2001 the Catalan Government asked for a protocol in order to prevent mutilation. This protocol had to be a tool in order to orientate the work that has to be done by the involved professionals (health department, education department, social workers, professionals that work with young people on risk, police forces) when they face one of these cases. The protocol is in existence since 2002 and is helping the network task between the involved operators.

The police role in order to prevent the tradition of mutilation:

1) Police can be in front of a risky case or in front of a consummated situation and is informed by a report interposed by an involved professional or by a citizen. If this is the case we will send the report to the court.

2) Another situation that can involve police intervention referred to this subject is when we are asked by the judge or by the prosecutor to do some research on a specific case.

3) Prevention: because one of the police functions is to be able to prevent the crime, and it is also our responsibility, and according to the protocol that refers to this subject, in this moment we are working on different levels:

a) To facilitate the knowledge of legislation and to inform that this cultural tradition is considered against the law even if the crime is committed in Spain or not, when girls are living here.

b) Networking tasks.

a) We are using informative talks to deal with and to prevent the practice of a tradition with strong roots within the Sub-Saharan community living in Catalonia. The Mossos d’Esquadra (The Catalan Autonomous Police)are working hard and actively in the following-up of the cases of mutilation which have been reported to them. In some cases, direct talks with the families have taken place. This kind of talks and this pedagogic methodology can be followed because the police has got a series of resources that help them to follow the appropriate prevention tasks. Some of theses resources are a direct output of a trip made by some police officers to Gambia and Senegal and which allowed these officers to learn about the cultural reality which is predominant in these countries and to get in contact with professionals and experts with a broad experience in this field.

b) tries to talk with the family and if it is not possible to talk with the parents (both) or if the doctor is not sure about the future of the girl then we evaluate the opportunity that the police take part in an active way in the case. If that is the case then the police services talk with the family and what they do is a type of negotiation that tries to neutralize the risky situation avoiding the judicial participation that would have to evaluate the opportunity to take caution measures (for example to remove girls passports). We consider that judicial participation has to be always theWhen we are in front of an extreme risky case, because we are in front of a practising family, were some members have been mutilated (the mother and sometimes the oldest daughters) and, also, they have planned a trip to their country of origin, then the involved operators work on the case in a coordinate way. What it is important to know is if somebody (association or operator) have worked in a pedagogical way with the family in the past. If this pedagogic approach works and the family is sensitized against the practice, then they will have the opportunity to leave the practice because of their own convincing, changing values, and not because of a legal imposition ( this happens if they carry on thinking that the best for the girls is to be mutilated). Obviously to have had this opportunity is absolutely the best. But, unfortunately, often this pedagogical task has not been done and when the information arrives to us we don’t have too much time to work in a preventive way (social workers, associations), so we are in front of a risky case that needs a quick answer. In front of these cases the doctor last level to use. Until now the cases that have been worked in a network way with the other operators (including police services), and also, sometimes, with the help of immigrant associations that work against mutilation in Catalonia, we have been successful. When the police officers talk with the family they ask them for the commitment that if they travel to their country of origin, the girls have to return “integral”. The honour word of an African person has a big value, so if they promise that no one will touch the girl we consider that the risk is neutralized, so, from this point the family can travel, can visit their family and also kids are able to learn about their parents origins, and this is the best for everybody. Along this year and refering to the area where I work, we have paid attention to 27 cases. From these 27 cases we have participated in a direct way talking with the family in 14 cases and in this moment I can tell that in 6 of these cases the families have already returned and every single girl has returned healthy (12 girls). Every one of these 12 girls is a small big triumph because once we’ve put a conflict on the table of each family, each village, each community and they solve it in favour of the most elemental human rights. The door that has to bring us to eradicate this crime has been opened.

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