Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has called on Executive Ministers to work together to end what she has described as the ‘abhorrent crime’ of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Commenting after she hosted an event at Stormont aimed at raising awareness of the issue, the Upper Bann MLA said:
“The effects of this crime last a lifetime and they impact on both the physical and mental health of babies and young girls.”
The event was organised by African & Caribbean Support NI (ACSONI) alongside local representatives from Barnardos & NSPCC.
Mrs Dobson said:
“We were addressed by world renowned FGM expert Dr Comfort Momoh MBE who painted a stark picture of the effects of this practice on young girls.
“As one of the contributors said - ‘the searing pain & agony has left me with a lifetime scarred both inside and out.’
“It’s a sad fact that 10% die following the procedure and a further 25% from long term complications. In a staggering statistic from the World Health Organisation they estimate 3 million girls undergo some form of the procedure every year in Africa alone.
“Tackling FGM locally is a cross-cutting issue which requires numerous Executive Departments to work together and our speakers called for a more joined up approach to be taken. This has been the case in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland – but not to date in Northern Ireland.
“Following the event I have tabled a number of written questions at Stormont to the Ministers who are directly responsible, encouraging them to work collaboratively to prevent this horrific crime being inflicted on women and girls who live in Northern Ireland.
“I commend the hard work and effort which ACSONI and others put in to raise important and emotional issues like this. It is no small task for an organisation to knock on the door of Government Departments on an issue as important as FGM.
“Working together we can and must end the abhorrent and heinous practice of Female Genital Mutilation.”