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World Vision Ireland, an international aid charity, recently warned about the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM) on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2020. 

On 27 January, a married couple were convicted of the FGM of their own daughter, the first conviction of FGM recorded in Ireland. The child was just one year old at the time when the FGM was carried out, in 2016.  Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced the male accused to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, and the female accused to four years and nine months.

According to World Vision Ireland, 200 million women and girls worldwide have undergone FGM. The charity said that FGM is an act of violence against women and girls and has no health benefits whatsoever. FGM is defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any practice that deliberately changes or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. 

“The recent judgement is one that World Vision Ireland welcomes — it sends a very clear and vital message that FGM is not tolerated in Ireland,” Ms Fiona O’Malley, Director of Communications at World Vision Ireland, said. “The estimation of the number of girls at risk of FGM in EU Member States is quite complex, because of the intimate nature of the crime, the stigma and secrecy around it, and because of the lack of data that allows for accurate measurement. Whilst we do not have conclusive or recent data, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) estimates that the level of FGM continues to increase in Ireland. A 2015 EIGE report suggests that the number of girls at risk of FGM in Ireland is between 158 and 1,632… it is important to emphasise that the procedure has absolutely no health benefits whatsoever for women or girls. It is a reversal of the natural order for a parent, instead of shielding and protecting their child, to subject them to such horror.”

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new-born deaths.

World Vision has set up protection committees to address issues of gender-based violence in Somalia, where 98 per cent of women have been subjected to FGM.