Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP
Monday 24th October 2022
Frances Fitzgerald MEP calls for vital surgical support to be provided publicly for survivors of FGM in Ireland
Such support is currently not publicly available in Ireland
Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald is calling for reconstructive surgery support to be made publicly available in Ireland, to assist the estimated 5,730 girls in Ireland who are victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Ireland currently does not provide reconstructive surgery publicly to women who are victims of FGM, but it is available across Europe, including in countries such as France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Fitzgerald sees the important role this surgery can play in a victim's recovery. “Female genital mutilation is a horrific practice and Ireland should at least offer the same support to victims as our European neighbours. Currently victims who need this surgery are forced to travel abroad. This is not acceptable. Reconstructive surgery can help reduce the chronic pain associated with FGM. It also allows survivors regain a normal life.
“I am calling on the Department of Health to make these supports available publicly for those who need it. If we are serious about tackling the scourge of FGM and supporting survivors then we need to ensure the proper services are provided. While specialised medical services are available for victims of FGM, reconstructive surgery is not.”
MEP Fitzgerald is calling for the provision of this surgery as part of her ongoing work in the European Parliament on the issue of violence against women and domestic violence.
“As rapporteur on the Proposal for a Directive on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, I have engaged with NGOs and other stakeholder who support victims of this violence. I have seen first-hand the need for a pan-European approach to this issue. This directive will help victims not only of FGM, but also of rape, revenge porn, and crimes committed in the cyber sphere.”
Fitzgerald highlights measures that would benefit survivors of FGM. “This Directive will ensure effective gynaecological, psychological and trauma care and counselling are provided to victims of FGM. “We need a survivor-led approach, to learn how best educate communities on the dangers and life-long impact of this practice. It is also imperative to engage with the diaspora of countries where FGM is most relevant. Engaging both internally and externally can help us to foster meaningful change, not just within EU borders, but also far outside of them.”
This Proposal also contains provisions to close legal loopholes at EU level that currently allow perpetrators to evade justice. “We are closing significant gaps at EU level by providing an extra-territoriality rule with respect to FGM. This has important practical implications. It means that where parents bring daughters to third countries to undergo FGM, they can be held accountable if they are a national of a Member State.
“Prevention is also critical. This legislation will put in place preventative measures that help to protect the estimated 1600 girls who are at high risk of FGM in Ireland.
“For too long, there has not been enough action on the issue of violence against women. This proposal for a directive is a meaningful step towards changing that.”