Call on gov to support abused children

  • Joanne McCarthy

The Children’s Rights Alliance has called on the Government to support all children living in Ireland who are currently enduring, or at risk of, child abuse. The call coincides with the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, which occurs today.

The appeal comes in light of the case of Pamela Izevbekhai. Ms Izevbekhai failed to win an injunction from the High Court yesterday to stall a deportation order back to Nigeria to save her daughters, Naomi (7) and Jemima (6), from a forced female genital mutilation (FGM) ceremony.

Ms Izevbekhai’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth, bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation when she was 18 months old. Her mother came to Ireland in 2005 after her husband’s family tried to forcibly subject her other daughters to FGM, according to her asylum application.

“To send these two young girls back to an environment where they may be threatened with FGM, which has already claimed the life of an older sister, raises serious concerns about the Government’s commitment to children. We will say it again: FGM is not a problem in some far-away land that the Government can ignore; turning a blind eye to what is likely to befall these poor girls is unforgivable,” said Jillian Van Turnhout, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance.

It is understood that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has asked the Irish Government not to deport Ms Izevbekhai before it considers the case on 9 December 2008.

The Alliance has urged the Irish Government to take heed of the ECHR’s request.  

There is currently no explicit legal protection against FGM in Ireland; neither is there specific legislation to protect a child from being removed from Ireland to have the procedure carried out overseas.

The Alliance says that it has raised the need for action time and again. Two years ago, in its Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Alliance asked that legislation be introduced to outlaw FGM.

The Chidren’s Rights Alliance also reiterated its urgent call on the Government to ratify the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

“Implementing the protocol would strengthen our child trafficking laws, including laws against the illegal adoption of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the tackling of child sex tourism and other child-abuse related offences.  Over 120 other states have ratified the protocol. Why not Ireland?” said Mrs Van Turnhout. 

“Six years on from when the Irish State signed this key protocol, we have failed to ratify it, and thus are out of step internationally. The aim of the protocol is to provide a platform for nations to stand together to stop the global sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Why is Ireland out of the loop and breaking the chain of this global child protection system?” she asked.

The Children’s Rights Alliance is a coalition of more than 80 NGOs working to secure the rights and needs of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

For more on female genital mutilation in Ireland, see http://www.irishhealth.com/index.html?level=4&id=14486


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