Alliance Welcomes Harney’s Commitment to FGM Bill and Calls for Extraterritorial Element

Published date: 
21 Apr 2010

Press Statement by Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance

‘The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the statement from the office of the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, TD, that she will introduce the Heads of a Bill to ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) within the next three months.  We welcome the Minister’s commitment to this issue.  This very positive announcement was made in advance of yesterday’s debate on a Private Members’ Bill on FGM, sponsored by Labour’s Senator Ivana Bacik.  FGM is a gross human rights violation and a critical children’s rights and child protection issue, with real implications for children living in Ireland today.

‘We call on the Minister to ensure that the Bill will not only ban the practice of FGM outright in Ireland, but will also contain an extraterritorial element, to protect a child from being taken out of this country to undergo FGM in another jurisdiction.  

‘The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated.  It will protect girls at risk, and will act as a deterrent to the continuation of this barbaric practice.  It will enable parents to counter family pressure to submit their daughters to FGM and will deliver a clear preventive message to the public.’

Jillian van Turnhout
Chief Executive

Notes to Editor:

  1. The Children’s Rights Alliance is an active member of the National Steering Committee of Ireland’s National Plan of Action to Address Female Genital Mutilation.  See
  2.  For further information on the Alliance’s position see: Briefing Paper on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): A Children’s Rights Issue; available at
  3.  In 2006, following submission of the Alliance’s Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee criticised Ireland for its failure to introduce legislation to prohibit FGM.  
  4. FGM is an internationally-recognised human rights violation of women and girls.  The practice has been strongly denounced by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other international medical and health organisations as a violation of numerous human rights treaties and as contrary to medical ethics.
  5. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any practice which purposely alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

About us:
The Children’s Rights Alliance is a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to secure the rights and needs of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It aims to improve the lives of all children under 18, through securing the necessary changes in Ireland’s laws, policies and services.

Children's Rights Alliance