The goals of the National Action Plan are to; firstly, prevent the practice of FGM in Ireland. Secondly, to provide high quality, appropriate health care and support for women and girls who have undergone FGM. Finally, to contribute to the worldwide campaign to end FGM.
We estimate that over 2,500 women living in Ireland have undergone the procedure and thousands of children are at risk of this potentially fatal practice, which is a gross violation of their human rights.
The Irish government must follow through on the recommendations proposed to Mary Harney, Minister for Health and Children, and adopt a bill to specifically outlaw the practice in Ireland. Only once this is achieved will these women and children be protected and we can continue our work to promote the abandonment of the practice internationally.
The Steering Committee is particularly concerned about the gaps between the current United Kingdom legislation, covering Northern Ireland, and our own. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 in the UK introduced extraterritoriality, making it an offence, for the first time, for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal.
Salome Mbugua, Director of AkiDwA says “There is currently no explicit legal protection against FGM in Ireland; neither is there specific legislation to protect a child from being removed from Ireland to have the procedure carried out overseas. These two scenarios need to be catered for together within legislation. We hope that the Minister for Health and Children will get the appropriate support from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Attorney General in urgently progressing this matter.”