18 November 2012



Ifrah Ahmed Speaks At the FGM Ban Celebration
Ifrah Ahmed, the lead campaigner for the introduction of the bill and the founder of United Youth of Ireland also spoke at the event. She described her own past experience of FGM, but said that although “the media described me as a victim of FGM, my goal was not to be a victim but to help other girls who did not have a voice and make a difference.” Beginning on her own, Ms Ahmed almost single-handedly led the campaign for the abolition of the practice in Ireland by raising awareness through fashion shows and applying pressure to various politicians. One of these was the current Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, who also spoke at the event. He described how the bill’s passage “had been a long battle, a hard battle and a long campaign” and this was especially so for Ifrah. This was made clear when Ms Ahmed described how she was “rejected by the African community in Ireland” for her calls for an end to FGM and how she had received death threats, even to this day. Four weeks before the event, following the passage of the bill, she was even forced to leave her home. “I thought they might come to cut off my head” she said, describing the threats, “When I came to Ireland as an asylum seeker I was told, ‘I am safe in Ireland’ but I never felt that I was safe in Ireland”.

Ms Ahmed also insisted that despite the successful passage of the bill that there was “still much work to be done”. She highlighted the lack of awareness in Ireland of FGM and the horrific health effects it can have, including urinary retention and infection, haemorrhage, still born pregnancies and death. “Some people still think it’s a normal thing to do… we need to educate people.” she said. “Without education we can’t help, we can’t do anything.”
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