Victims of ‘horrific practice’ living in NI

Former Health Minister Jim Wells advised party colleague Gregory Campbell that he was aware of women living here who had undergone the “horrific crime of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).”

However, he said he had no evidence FGM had been practised here.

“While I am aware that there are women living in Northern Ireland who were victims of FGM before coming here, I have no evidence that FGM is practised here,” he said.

“There have been no referrals related to FGM, including into adult services, into any of the Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts in Northern Ireland in the last five years.

“I acknowledge that the practice can be difficult to detect, as it often only becomes evident when a woman presents to health services with a condition unrelated to FGM,” he added.

Mr Wells confirmed that he was aware of populations living here for whom the practice was the cultural norm.

He said cross-Departmental steps had been taken to prevent the practice.

“It is for that reason that my Department worked with the Department of Finance and Personnel to produce and publish multi-agency guidance on FGM. “Also, the three Chief Professional Officers in my Department have written to health and social care professionals advising that they familiarise themselves with the guidance and the actions they need to take when they have reason to believe that a girl or woman has undergone, or is at risk of, FGM.

“My Department will continue to engage with other agencies to prevent this horrific crime from being inflicted on women and girls resident in Northern Ireland,” he said.