FGM legislation will protect girls living in Ireland

28 March 2012

The Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill has been passed, outlawing the practice of FGM both in Ireland and also abroad when a girl living in Ireland is abroad.

Labour Women welcome the passing of the Bill : "As far back as in 2001 Liz McManus, a Labour Deputy at the time, introduced a FGM Bill. Since then Labour Women have been involved in supporting this Bill. Jan O'Sullivan TD continued the work when she was the Health Spokesperson for the Labour Party, and Senator Ivana Bacik then initiated the Bill as a Private Members Bill. FGM is a harmful practice which only aims to control women. It has no benefit to the health of girls whatsoever - indeed, FGM has many negative physical and mental side-effects. It is a cruel, painful procedure which has no place in the modern world' , said Katherine Dunne LW Chair.

One important aspect in protecting girls is the fact that FGM is now a criminal offence even if you take the girl out of the country for the procedure. The African Women's Network has welcomed the passing of the Bill and said : "As we approach the summer months, we know that people in Europe are making plans to transport girls back to their country of origin for FGM. The passing of the Bill today sends a clear message to parents and guardians that FGM will not be tolerated in Europe, and in Ireland in particular. Moreover, the new legislation arising from the Bill will have extra-territorial effect. This represents a vital protection for women and girls living in Ireland, but who could be transported out of the country for FGM."

It is estimated that there are more than 3,000 women and girls living in Ireland who have undergone FGM. Most are from Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Senator Ivana Bacik said: "I am really delighted that the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill has finally passed through both houses of the Oireachtas, and I am very proud to have played a part in its passage. This Bill started life as a private members bill that I introduced in the Seanad, and which achieved cross-party support. In particular, there is immense support for the new offences created in the Bill, which I hope will help to deter or prevent the horrific practice of female genital mutilation being performed on any children or women resident in Ireland, and which will also criminalise anyone who seeks to take a child or woman out of Ireland to have FGM performed elsewhere."

Some information about FGM as outlined by Akidwa :
What is FGM?
FGM may include the full or partial removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora. It may also include a narrowing of the vaginal opening and other non-medical procedures.
Where is FGM practiced?
FGM is most common in the Western, Eastern and North-Eastern regions of Africa. It is also present in some countries in Asia and the Middle East and among certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe.
At what age is FGM normally inflicted?
Between the ages of four and ten.
Why is it practiced?
FGM is practiced for a number of cultural and social factors. There is no evidence in any of the holy texts to suggest that FGM is a requirement of a particular religion. The practice of FGM predates most world religions.
How many women and girls have been subjected to FGM worldwide?
Figures show as many as 140 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM worldwide, with an estimated 8,000 new cases every day.

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