Ifrah Ahmed is from Somalia and due to the conflict in her own country she made Ireland her home by arriving in 2006 to begin a new life. Ifrah has worked as an activist dealing with policy makers and mainstream organisations. As a social and community worker she was involved in many community projects to bring change. To name a few organisation she was involved with UNICEF, Amnesty International, Irish refugee Council, and Somali Community in Ireland.
Eventually as time passed, Ifrah saw it was a must to create a new platform of organisation where she could fight for causes at an organisational level. She thus went on to create and became the founder of United Youth of Ireland by becoming a grounded social and community worker with a focused vision which is making a difference among the immigrants of Ireland.The organisation, United Youth of Ireland , is a group of dedicated young people from ages 15 to 25 coming from different countries. Since it started in 2010, United Youth of Ireland has fought for many causes. She is very much interested about health issues particularly women health. One of the issues that Ifrah has been fighting for is Female genital mutilation (FGM).
What is Female genital mutilation?
Female genital mutilation has recently been one of the main topics among the health organisations and African community in Ireland. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), female genital mutilation (FGM), is defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or practice that purposely alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers who often play other central roles in communities such as attending childbirths. The practice is internationally recognised as a human rights violation of women and girls.
Female genital mutilation is prevalent mostly in Africa, in particular North-Eastern, Eastern and western Africa. Moreover, it is also dominant in the Middle East, in South-East Asia and also can be found among immigrants in Europe. According to WHO, 150 million women are affected worldwide. In Europe, the number of women and girls exposed by FGM totals to 50,000. Currently, it is estimated that 3,780 women living in Ireland have undergone FGM; the age group is between 15 years to 44 years and also despite a decline in inward migration to Ireland the figure of the prevalence of FGM in Ireland continues to increase.
According to WHO the long term health issues which arise due to FGM are; recurrent bladder, urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, increased risk of childbirth complications and new-born death.
Ifrah and his young friends have fought against the practice of FGM. On the other hand, some people think that FGM is a religious practice but talking to Ifrah regarding this matter she explained and said that, “It is a culture practice and a community belief”.
“After a decade of campaigning and lobbying, the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act2012 was signed into law in April 2012, and became effective in September 2012. The Act creates an innovative offence of removal from the State of a girl for the purpose of FGM. Punishment is up to 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine; for a summary conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both.”
Female genital mutilation is not just a mere social issue by which the law is passed and the rest will stop but much more investment is needed to eradicate the issue completely. Still there are many women who believe that FGM is necessary to ensure acceptance within their community as they are unaware that FGM is not practised in most of the world. The fact that people can still take their children and go to their country and have the procedure done and nobody will know about it is the violation of human right.
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation will be on February 06, 2014. FGM is a UN-SUPPORTED awareness day. It is an effort to make the world aware of female genital mutilation and to promote its eradication.
Thanks to Ifrah Ahmed’s United Youth of Ireland which continues to work hard on numerous fronts to bring changes to the lives of immigrants in Ireland.
“Women’s loyalty has to be earned with trust and affection, rather than barbaric rituals. The time has come to leave the old ways of suffering behind” – Waris Dirie, Desert Flower: the Extraordinary journey of a Desert Nomad