– Release date: 27 September 2004
As global migration is now a reality, there are women who have suffered FGM now living with its consequences in Ireland, and also there is a danger that this harmful practice may gain a foothold here in Ireland. The IFPA has joined with Comhlamh, Akidwa and Labour Women to form a coalition which aims to engage Irish society through an awareness raising campaign about the reality of FGM and its consequences, both in Ireland and globally.
On Friday the 24th of September, the Coalition organised a meeting to link with and learn from other groups and individuals with an interest in the issue. The aim was to inform the Coalition’s future activities and hopefully to broaden its membership base.
Participants at the meeting came from a diverse range of backgrounds including academics, local women’s networks, human rights NGOs, UNIFEM, UNHCR, Residents against Racism and refugee and asylum seeking support workers.
The meeting began with input on the practice which was followed by a history of Comhlamh’s Health and Development Group and the Coalition’s work to date.
A lively discussion followed where issues raised included the difference between FGM and male circumcision, evidence of the practice taking place in Ireland, gender specific harm and the asylum process, resource difficulties for womens groups wishing to raise awareness among members, the draft legislation prepared by the Coalition, lack of awareness of the issue among legal practitioners and deciding officers and so forth.
A number of recommendations for future action were outlined and include:
- Promoting conversation on FGM with aim of empowering women, targeting legal practitioners likely to work with asylum seeking and refugee clients with information on the issue
- Source funds to resource women’s networking groups who wish to know more about their rights, working to ensure gender sensitive guidelines are applied consistently and evenly
- Commission a survey of public health nurses and midwives on their knowledge of the issue and whether they have received requests for information on its availability in Ireland.
Efforts to bring forward legislation to specifically outlaw the practice should be continued as part of a wider campaign.
Participants were encouraged to join the Coalition as individuals or where possible and appropriate with the backing of their Organisation.