1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 17

Thursday, February 10, 2022
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, the United Nations has declared February 6 as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

I am truly disappointed to inform you that Canada’s record on prosecuting this horrific and excruciating practice is dismal. Although the Criminal Code was amended in 1997 to include female genital mutilation as a form of aggravated assault, to date there have been no prosecutions for female genital mutilation in Canada. Twenty-five years, no prosecutions.

Honourable senators, this is unacceptable, particularly given that the End FGM Canada Network under the leadership of Giselle Portenier, with whom I have been working closely, estimates that there are more than 100,000 survivors across Canada and thousands of girls remain at risk.

Girls like Serat who was born in Somalia, but grew up with her aunt in Ontario. When she was 13, she travelled with her aunt to Somalia to see her mother. Early one morning, three women burst into her home and grabbed her while she was sleeping. Serat started screaming and tried to run. The women caught her, pinned her down, spread her legs and subjected her to female genital mutilation. Serat passed out from blood loss and pain. When she recovered consciousness, her legs were tied together. When she returned to Canada a few months later, her aunt told her to accept what had happened and move on. How could she? Serat still talks about feeling ashamed and devastated. She did not reveal this terrible act that happened to her for over a decade.

Who could she talk to when there remains a complete wall of silence, even in Canada, around FGM? Honourable senators, we need to break this wall. Our laws are clear. To make it illegal, remember that Canada has a clear law that would make genital mutilation a crime.

I stand before you, as I have many times on this issue, to say that if you are moved by Serat’s story, please act now. Please look out in your community for those vulnerable girls, and please remember that they are our girls. I ask you to support me to get the issue of FGM prosecuted in Canada. Thank you, senators.