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IRELAND: Doctors Urged to Report Female Genital Mutilation

I rish doctors have been asked to report any cases of suspected female genital mutilation (FGM) that they may come across.

Speaking to IMN, IMO Vice-President and GP leader Dr Martin Daly urged any doctor who came across any patients whom they suspected had been subjected to FGM while in Ireland to report it the relevant authorities immediately.

The warning comes after reports by the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, that healthcare workers are reporting increasing numbers of FGM cases among immigrant communities living in Europe.

FGM is a cultural practice in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and WHO defines it as “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons”.

Weak legislation in Ireland is leaving young immigrant girls vulnerable to female genital mutilation, according to Labour TD for Cork South Central, Mr Ciaran Lynch.

He has pledged to raise the matter in the Dáil with Health Minister Mary Harney at the first opportunity.

Deputy Lynch said he was seeking statutory guidelines to be introduced for health workers and the Gardaí so they can put in place protections for children that they believe to be at risk.

“I am aware that a major report by the UN in 2002 found that it was being carried out amongst immigrant communities in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzer­land and the UK. In that context, I would be concerned that it could be happening here, given the profile of many of our immigrants.

“Remember that just four years ago in Waterford, a baby bled to death after a ritual circumcision was performed by a man who had no medical training,” he stated.

Female genital mutilation is specifically outlawed in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, and also in Sweden and Norway, while it is currently classified in Ireland under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, which does not afford enough protection, according to Deputy Lynch.

A spokesperson from the Irish Refugee Council called for specific education and training to be made available to Irish doctors on how to treat women who have been victims of FGM and who are suffering ongoing complications arising from the procedure.

“Female genital mutilation is one of the grounds for seeking refugee status in Ireland. The Irish Refugee Council believes that women and girls have a right to expect protection in Ireland from being violated in this manner.

“We welcome the fact that gender specific persecution is recognised as a ground for refugee status in the Im­migration, Residence and Pro­tection Bill, 2007 and recommend the development of guidelines and training to increase awareness and to improve the assessment of such claims,” the Council told IMN.

SOURCE: Irish Medical News

AUTHOR: Pricsilla Lynch

URL: Click here

DATE: 02/09/2007

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