Published date: 
28 Mar 2012

Wednesday 28 March 2012: For immediate release


The passing of the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill 2011 today, has been warmly welcomed by the Children’s Rights Alliance.  The Alliance has been campaigning for this for a number of years, both as an independent organisation and in its role on the ‘National Steering Committee of Ireland’s National Plan of Action to Address Female Genital Mutilation’.  

Tanya Ward, the Alliance’s Chief Executive, says: “Today is a great victory for children’s rights in Ireland.  We congratulate the Oireachtas and Minister for Health, James Reilly, TD for passing this important legislation at a relatively speedy pace. This legislation brings Ireland in line with the original 15 European Union Member States, 12 of which have legislation on FGM.  We welcome the fact that there will now be an outright ban on the practice of FGM in Ireland.  We also welcome the fact that this legislation will help to prevent a girl from being taken out of Ireland overseas to her family’s country of origin to undergo FGM.  Up to now, this has been a very real and serious risk for children living in Ireland.  

The practice of FGM clearly breaches a number of articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including protection from physical violence, injury or abuse (Article 19.1) and from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 37.a).  The State also has a duty to take steps towards ending harmful traditional practices to the health of the child (Article 24.3). In 2006, the UN Committee criticised Ireland for failing to address FGM and recommended a legal ban on FGM and programmes to inform the population about it.  

Tanya Ward continues: “FGM must never happen in Ireland and no child should ever be removed from this country to have it performed on her. This practice is a serious violation of children’s rights and 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 horrific 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.”


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 to date, 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 usually performed on a girl during her early childhood, and the World Health Organization estimates that 3 million girls are at risk annually of undergoing the procedure.  It is conservatively estimated that over 3,170 women, resident in Ireland, have experienced FGM – similar figures relating to children do not exist.  
  5. 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.
  6. (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 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