Friday 20 July 2018

Female circumcision 'should be allowed by law' - member of Ireland's Islamic Cultural Centre

Dr Ali Selim
Photo: RTE
Dr Ali Selim Photo: RTE
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Female circumcision "has been described in a horrible way" and should be considered in certain circumstances, a member of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland has said.

Dr Ali Selim called female circumcision "an inherited practice" and said parents should be allowed to have it carried out on their daughter if a doctor says it's necessary.

He also said that you "cannot control people" and people will travel overseas for the procedure.

Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), is defined as the partial of total destruction of female genitalia for non-medical reasons and was made illegal here in 2012.

FGM has been carried out on an estimated 200 million girls around the world, including nearly 6,000 in Ireland.

Despite the World Health Organisation stating that "the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women", Dr Selim claims it should be allowed in some instances.

Dr Ali Selim said he is an advocate for female circumcision
Photo: RTE
Dr Ali Selim said he is an advocate for female circumcision Photo: RTE

Speaking on Prime Time on RTE One last night, he explained: "I am not an advocate of female genital mutilation, but of female circumcision.

"If we see female circumcision in the same way as male circumcision, it might be needed for one person and not another, it has to be determined by a doctor and practiced in a safe, medical environment.

"It's the same medical reasons that justify male circumcision, it's not an obligation but it should be allowed by law if needed and a medical doctor should be able to decide if it's needed."

Dr Selim, who is an Arabic lecturer at Trinity College, said he feels that female circumcision has been harshly portayed.

"It has been described in a horrible way, it's always described as 'barbaric' and we always hear the term mutilation, it is portrayed as a dark skin practice, or something that belongs in the Dark Ages.

"In Europe people want to be cool so you have to show a revolutionary attitude, it's an inherited practice.

"If it's inherited it doesn't have to be rejected, it has to be considered and not rejected just because it's inherited," he said.

Dr Selim also claimed there is little that can be done to stop people accessing female circumcision abroad.

"You can't control people, it's against the law to practise abortion but people just cross the border and come back.

"I would say to anyone who wants to bring their daughter overseas for circumcision to ask their doctor, a medical doctor has to say that they need it," he said.

He was speaking after a worldwide social media campaign against FGM was launched in Dublin on Tuesday.

Activists are calling for zero tolerance towards FGM and are asking people to use show their support on social media using the hashtag #MeTooFGM

GFM survivor Ifrah Ahmed, an Irish citizen who was born in Somalia, helped to organise the launch and said that she will fight to have it banned worldwide.

She said: "Today 200 million women worldwide are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation and 100 million are at risk of being circumcised.

"It is amazing really."

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