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Ireland's first "landmark" female genital mutilation clinic to open today

Almost 4,000 women in Ireland are believed to have undergone FGM. FGM is illegal in this country.

IRELAND’S FIRST FGM clinic will open today, with an aim of providing treatment to the almost 4,000 women who have suffered female genital mutilation.

The clinic will be Ireland’s first specialist support service for FGM and will be officially opened at an event attended by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), AkiDwA – the Migrant Women’s Network, and the HSE National Social Inclusion Office.

Female genital mutilation Some of the blunt and dirty tool used to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM) which were surrendered to Afnet, the anti-female genital mutilation network in Dodoma, Tanzania. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The service will be officially opened in the IFPA Clinic, Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1 by the Minister of State with Responsibility for Primary Care, Alex White TD.

IFPA Medical Director Dr Catriona Henchion said:

This service will provide high quality medical and psychological care to the more than 3,780 women and girls in Ireland who have undergone FGM. The first specialist primary care service of its kind in the country, it is a landmark step forward in Ireland’s efforts to address the issue of FGM.

What is FGM?

FGM “includes procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”, explains the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO points out that the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women, and can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating.

It can also lead to cysts, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth.

FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

It is usually carried out for cultural, social, or religious reasons and usually without pain relief or proper medical care.  More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is generally practiced, says the WHO.

It is carried out on young girls, at any stage between infancy and 15. Occasionally, it is carried out on adult women.

Is FGM legal in Ireland?

FGM was officially made illegal in Ireland in March 2012. The legislation prohibits the practice, but also means that anyone resident in Ireland who takes a girl abroad to have FGM performed on her can be prosecuted in Ireland.

The bill had been first proposed by Ivana Bacik. She said at the time: “This is a pressing issue in this country, particularly for migrant women and girls and their families.”

The new service is funded by the HSE National Social Inclusion Office and lead by the Irish Family Planning Association, with the support of AkiDwA.

Read: Ireland’s EU presidency ‘confused and inadequate’ on female genital mutilation>

Read: Female genital mutilation officially banned in Ireland>

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