On the eve of international women’s day in Ireland in March this year the Irish Labour Health Minster Liz McManus attended an event to address the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The meeting aimed to address the growing proportion of FGM cases taking place in the State and how legislation can be enacted to outlaw the practice. The Minister proposed a private members bill to legislate against FGM. The Bill entitled an Act to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation was launched on 27th March 2001. The Action raised a substantial debate in the Dail (Irish parliament). The Department of Health is taking the issue seriously, issuing a circular about FGM to community care personnel and specific legislation to prohibit the practice is being considered.
Work against the practice has taken off recently led by the campaigning group Comhlamh, based in Dublin. In February the group held three public meetings. Guest speakers included Florence Harding from FORWARD, senator Mary Henry, who is an advocate for legislation against FGM globally. The event was also attended by Juliet, an asylum seeker from Nigeria, who spoke out against the practice in her home country. This public meeting was the first of its kind to raise the issue of FGM among the general public and media and health professionals in Ireland. A group of volunteer health professionals, community workers, refugees and asylum seekers has been set up and aims to address issues such as enacting legislation against the practice and integrating education on FGM into the curriculum for nurses and midwives, developing newspaper and magazine articles to raise pubic awareness.