IRELAND: Ireland Must Act on Mutilation

Ireland needs to ensure that female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) does not become established among migrant ethnic communities, according to a new report.

The report has been published as the Government considers introducing specific legislation to ban female genital mutilation (FGM).

The report by the Women’s Health Council found that while FGM is not a widespread cultural practice in Ireland, it still affects a small proportion of women living in the country and has a huge negative health impact on those women.

FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

In Africa, about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually, and the World Health Organisation estimates that 130 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

Geraldine Luddy, director of the Women’s Health Council said Ireland needs to ensure that the practice does not become established among migrant ethnic communities and that those charged with service provision

“While there is a low occurrence of FGM in Ireland, its existence does remain a characteristic within minority communities and a concern would be that in order to maintain cultural traditions, the practice might take place in secret,” Ms Luddy said.

“As FGM is not medically available in Ireland, the potential exists for it to be practiced in private within ethnic minority communities and remain hidden from both authorities and the health system.”

The WHC argues that Ireland must adopt a proactive approach to prevent the emergence of FGM, including legislative reform, and priority should be given to the needs of women affected on social, physical and emotional levels by the continued practice of FGM.

Although FGM currently constitutes an offence under the Non-fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

Health Minister Mary Harney said in the Dail last week she is examining the possibility of introducing specific legislation to ban FGM in Ireland.

SOURCE: Irish Health

AUTHOR: Olivia Fens

URL: Click here

DATE: 11/06/2008

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