There must be a National Strategy to combat Female Genital Mutilation, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Offaly Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy has called for a cross departmental and cross civil society approach to stamp out the illegal practice in Ireland, and to support women who have been subjected to it.
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy said: “The practice of FGM has been illegal here since 2012, and it is also illegal to travel to have it carried out.
“It can be referred to as cutting, mutilation or circumcision- it is all the same unnecessary practice.
“We have heard some incorrect claims in the media in recent days that FGM is an acceptable procedure if prescribed by a doctor.
“However the Irish College of General Practitioners has confirmed to me today that there is no medical reason for FGM and it should never be done.
“Irish GPs are trained to protect women and children from FGM and there is no instance when a GP would determine in favour of the illegal practice.”
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy continued: “Tuesday was the international day for zero tolerance of FGM.
“This practice is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of women and girls.
“It has serious social, health and psychological consequences and is one of the most pervasive forms of gender based violence.
“Women and families from countries with high prevalence of FGM such as Northern Sudan (90% prevalence of FGM in girls and women aged 15-49), Somalia (98%) and Nigeria (19%) are continuing to migrate to Ireland.
“Migration is challenging for families as they try to integrate and adjust to a completely different environment and at the same time preserve essential elements of their cultural identity.
“Migration is also challenging for Irish society as it attempts to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
“Many Irish service providers may be unfamiliar with the health and care needs, child protection issues, legal technicalities and community development approaches related to FGM.
“This can be challenging for service providers, as well as communities affected by FGM, in their desire to provide high quality and culturally appropriate services and care.
“I am calling for a national strategy to be developed to end this clear violation of the human rights of women and girls, and support those who have already been made victims of the inhumane practice.
“Ireland played a central role at the United Nations brokering the Sustainable Development Goals, which ask all UN members to eliminate FGM by 2030.
“Ireland advocated strongly for the inclusion of this particular target on FGM, which is intended to provide much needed impetus to international action to end this appalling practice.
“A new White Paper on Ireland’s policy on international development will be prepared in the first half of this year.
“I hope this will include a strategy to protect women and girls from this violating procedure.”