FGM conference brought survivors,campaigners and policymakers together
Senator Ivana Bacik opened our conference on FGM in October by calling on the Irish Government to commit the resources needed to develop a national action plan to eradicate the harmful traditional practice.
A National Action Plan is needed to guide state agencies like Tusla, the HSE and Gardaí on how to build partnerships with communities to eradicate FGM.
Senator Bacik was responsible for bringing the Private Members Bill that outlawed FGM in Ireland seven years ago She told the conference that she had been inspired to produce the Bill by AkiDwA’s decade of campaigning.
We heard moving accounts from FGM survivors whose lives have been marked by pain and trauma as a result of FGM, and AkiDwa’s Nenette Bouithy presented her research findings on the psychological impact of FGM on teenagers.
Nenette’s Masters research assessed 21 studies of how FGM had affected women’s mental health. She found evidence that FGM can be a risk factor for developing post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health disorders. However, she also found evidence that women who sought help from holistic care programmes reported some benefits after taking part in these programs, even when they chose not to have clitoral surgical reconstruction.
Edith Iheama above, left
Dr Edith Iheama (on the left) who works with the Mojatu Foundation, a charity based in Nottingham, told us how Mojatu has been working with local and national authorities since 2012 to make Nottingham Europe’s first City of Zero Tolerance For FGM.
She is pictured here with AkiDwA Chair Meddy Okonkwo, our conference host Tendai Madondo, Fatima Awil, Advocacy Officer with End FGM European Network and Conference Organiser Caroline Munyi with some of the other speakers.
Dr Iheama explained how Mojatu works with teachers, youth groups, parents and agencies to debunk the myths that still persist around FGM.
Representing the Department of Justice & Equality was Secretary General Aidan O Driscoll, (pictured)
who stressed that the Department’s recently completed
re-organisation had done much to strengthen its commitment to equality for all.
He thanked AkiDwA for two decades of useful collaboration and confirmed the need for funding to be allocated to develop a National Action Plan to end FGM in Ireland.
The conference focused on the challenges in communicating about FGM and highlighted effective strategies that have helped migrant communities to abandon it.
There is a report on the Conference by Orla Ryan of The Journal.ie here: https://www.thejournal.ie/fgm-ireland-2-4863010-Oct2019/