What legislation against FGM exists in Ireland ?

FGM became illegal in Ireland in 2012 when the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012 was passed.

The 2012 law made it  ILLEGAL to practice or attempt to practice FGM on a woman or girl.

It also became a criminal offence for anyone resident in Ireland to ask someone else to perform FGM or for someone resident in Ireland to take a girl to another country to undergo FGM.

Offenders can be prosecuted when they return to Ireland. The maximum penalty under all sections of this law is a fine of up to €10,000 or imprisonment for up to 14 years or both.

FGM is treated as a form of Child Abuse in Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011.

The Criminal Justice FGM Act 2012 states:

  • Section 2 – “A person is guilty of an offence if the person does or attempts to do an act of female genital mutilation”.
  • Section 3 – “A person is guilty of an offence if the person removes or attempts to remove a girl or woman from the State where one of the purposes for removal is to have the act of genital mutilation done to her.”
  • Section 4 – “A person is guilty of an offence if the person does or attempts to do an act of female genital mutilation in a place other than the State, but only if it is done or attempted to be done:
    • on board an Irish ship within the meaning of section 9 of the Mercantile Marine Act 1955 ,
    • on an aircraft registered in the State, or
    • by a person who is a citizen of Ireland or is ordinarily resident in the State, and would constitute an offence in the place in which it is done.

FGM as a Human Rights Violation

Female genital mutilation, in any form, is recognised internationally as a gross violation of human rights of girls and women.

The practice of FGM violates:

  • Right to physical and mental integrity
  • Right to highest attainable standard of health
  • Right to be free from all forms of discrimination against women (including violence against women)
  • Right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Rights of the child
  • Right to life

As it is practiced at very premature age, usually in girls between 4 and 10 years old, the practice of FGM violates children’s rights as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in particular the right to be free from discrimination (Article 2), right to be protected from all forms of mental and physical violence and maltreatment (Article 19(1)), the right to highest attainable standard of health (Article 24) and freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 37).

However, the law is not enough to stop the practice – interventions aimed at providing education and adapting cultural practices and traditions are also needed.