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10th February 2018

The medical director of Ireland's only specialist clinic for the treatment of female genital mutilation (FGM) has said the procedure has a devastating impact on women and has absolutely no medical justification.

Responding to comments made on RTÉ Prime Time on Thursday evening and a further statement by the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland on Friday, Dr Caitriona Henchion, Medical Director of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and its FGM clinic, said: “FGM is never medically indicated. It causes harm and has no health benefits. Indeed, it can result in serious short- and long-term health complications, such as pain, infection, menstrual problems, urinary tract problems and sexual difficulties. It is also associated with serious complications in childbirth. FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of women and girls and is a criminal offence in Ireland.”

Dr Henchion continued: “The World Health Organisation consistently and unequivocally condemns medicalisation of FGM and is clear that any attempt to medicalise the procedure is unacceptable and a violation of the basic principle of medical ethics.”

She added: "In our specialist clinic, we hear first hand of the devastating impact FGM can have on the physical and psychological health of women and girls. The harm it causes can never be minimised or disregarded. There is never any justification for FGM, medically or socially."

About the Irish Family Planning Association’s FGM treatment service:

Opened in 2014, the Irish Family Planning Association’s (IFPA) FGM Treatment Service provides free specialised medical and psychological care to women and girls affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). The service is based at the IFPA clinic in Dublin city centre and is the only service of its kind in Ireland. It is funded by the HSE Social Inclusion Unit. 

IFPA medical staff can examine women to identify the type of FGM they have experienced and assess whether surgical intervention is required. They can also provide advice about pain and infection management, as well as antenatal and fertility advice. IFPA counselling staff can provide confidential, non-judgmental counselling where women can begin to address emotional and psychological trauma arising from both past events and present circumstances.