July 6, 2010
“FGM (female genital mutilation) is unusual in Ireland, so people will be shocked and you have to explain over and over. That’s what makes people say, ‘No, I don’t want to go [to the doctor]'” says Ifrah Ahmed of the End FGM European campaign led by Amnesty International.
Greater awareness among healthcare workers in Ireland is needed to help women who have undergone ‘female circumcision’, writes CATHERINE REILLY
A WINNING SMILE fails to conceal 19-year-old Amina’s* horrific burden, one that can render her bed-bound for days at the asylum seeker hostel in Co Galway where she lives.
Aged six, her family sanctioned a local “circumciser” in her native Somalia to mutilate her genitals, and the consequences reverberate across time and place and within mind, body and soul. When her period comes, it feels as though “the cutting” is happening all over again.
“Oh my God the pain, you are afraid of the pain,” says the teenager, her neat hijab framing a welcoming face. “I am like, ‘Oh my God, let it not come, let it not come’.”
She endures chronic stress, frequent infections, back pain and is anaemic, all likely traceable to that watershed day when she was mutilated alongside three other girls.
More than 2,500 migrant women in Ireland are estimated to have suffered some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) in their countries, according to AkiDwA, a national network of African and migrant women.