What is Female Genital Mutilation?
“Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” states the World Health Organisation.
It is often used as a tool to deplete a woman’s sex drive. Reasons such as cultural pressure and ensuring a woman maintains her virginity before marriage contribute to why it is a practice still carried out in some countries across the globe.
The most common procedure of FGM carried out is a clitoridectomy, which removes the clitoris. Other procedures include removing the labia and all skin around the vagina, narrowing the vagina and cauterisation of the vagina is some cases.
“It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women,” says the WHO, on FGM. Millions of girls and women have been mutilated for the primary purpose of supressing sexual desire.
Why is it an issue in Ireland?
Up to 6,000 girls in Ireland are affected by FGM and the numbers showed a 53 per cent increase in girls who suffered FGM from 2013 to 2016.
“It is happening here and girls are being taken out of Ireland to be cut,” said Dr Caroline Munyi, a spokesperson for the ActionAid programme which aims to create a more open atmosphere around talking about FGM.
Dr Ali Selim, a Professor at Trinity College University, initially started the conversation in Ireland after he condoned FGM in certain cases when “it might be needed for one person”.
“I condemn FGM in the strongest terms. I admit that I caused confusion based on my misunderstanding of the term [circumcision] and I do apologise for this,” said Selim, while on TV3’s Pat Kenny Show, as he tried to clarify his previous comments after coming under scrutiny by healthcare professionals and activists.