Labour MEPs today called for the EU to set out its plan of action to combat female genital mutilation (FGM).
In a speech to the European Parliament, Labour's Julie Ward MEP s:
"I have been moved by my encounters with activists from the End FGM European campaign who have shown that by working together, including and supporting women and communities affected by the practice, we can effect change. Campaigns have a lifespan but issues do not go away so we must continue to speak out, together with civil society, in order to raise public awareness and move closer to the next goal which is zero tolerance.
"One of the most powerful ways to do this is to encourage and support affected communities to bear witness to their experiences. Through the telling of stories of those who have experienced the pain of mutilation and circumcision, we break the taboo and stigma which surrounds the ritual.
"Through sharing the testimonies of others who have been involved, such as health professionals, lawyers and community workers, men as well as women, we show how this is an issue that must be tackled at home as well as abroad.
"Zero tolerance for the practice of FGM must come about with more tolerance and open discussion of the practice, and the suffering it brings about. We must embrace all those affected by enacting a more compassionate form of politics, raising the pitch of public debate, changing the language we use so that victims become ‘rights holders’.
"We must continue to work together with all those affected in helping to eradicate the practice."
Labour MEPs also called for the EU to back UN targets to eradicate FGM worldwide.