Reforming Laws on Female Genital Mutilation in Ireland: Responding to Gaps in Protection
Dublin University Law Journal, Vol. 32, pp. 243-272, 2010
24 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010 Last revised: 27 Apr 2012
Date Written: June 30, 2010
This paper explores recent proposals for reform on laws relating to female genital mutilation in Ireland. The article rejects the appeals to cultural difference that have sought to hinder the process of reform, but also cautions against polarisation of feminism and multicultural politics. The paper examines the question of consent and its positioning within contemporary discourse on human rights. How prohibitions of FGM fit with, or depart from, legal regulation of medical and cosmetic procedures, is a question that has troubled feminist human rights advocates. The paper argues that such tensions must be acknowledged and explored, while also recognising the context of gender discrimination within which practices such as FGM persist. Asylum law and policy in Ireland is also examined and as the paper notes, while FGM is recognised as giving rise to a possible claim to asylum or subsidiary protection, in practice, many obstacles to securing protection arise. Many of the challenges that are now faced by asylum applicants bubble beneath the surface, less likely to raise the grand conceptual debates that for so long preoccupied asylum adjudicators. Instead, it is the lower level preoccupations with credibility, availability of protection and internal relocation that now function as the primary gatekeepers in asylum adjudication on FGM.
Keywords: Female Genital Mutilation, Multiculturalism, Ireland, Gender Equality, Gender Asylum, Gender Based Persecution, Women's Human Rights, Cultural Relativism
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