Trinity lecturer faces dismissal following his support of female genital mutilation 1 year ago

Trinity lecturer faces dismissal following his support of female genital mutilation

A letter was sent to the university's Provost today.

Dr Ali Selim, a leading figure in the Irish Muslin community, has been heavily criticised following controversial comments the Trinity lecturer made during an episode of RTÉ's Prime Time.

Selim, a spokesperson for the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland based in Clonskeagh, claimed while filming that female genital mutilation is acceptable in some cases.

The lecturer told Prime Time that if a parent wants their daughter to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), then they should seek the advice of their doctor as it can be necessary for medical reasons.

According to the HSE, female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any practice that purposely changes or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is internationally recognised as a human rights violation of women and girls.

“We see female circumcision in the same way we see male circumcision. It might be needed for one person and not another, and it has to be done by a doctor and practised in a safe environment,” Selim said on Thursday's show.

“The same medical reason that would justify male circumcision would be the same for females. It is not an obligation, but it should be allowed by law if needed and a medical doctor can decide if it is needed or not.”

Following the show's airing, Selim’s comments have received sharp criticism from various healthcare professionals, family organisations, and activists campaigning against the FGM culture in Ireland and abroad.

Female circumcision, also termed female genital mutilation (FGM), is illegal under the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012.

It is also a criminal offence for someone resident in Ireland to perform FGM or for a resident in Ireland to take a girl to another country to undergo FGM. This person can be prosecuted when they return to Ireland.

The maximum penalty under all sections of this law is a fine of up to €10,000 or imprisonment for up to 14 years or both.

Additionally FGM is included as a form of Child Abuse in Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011.

A letter was sent by Kevin Keane, the current president of Trinity College's Student Union (TCDSU), alongside the following message:

"Below is a copy of a letter delivered to the Provost today. TCDSU demands the dismissal, without delay, of Ali Selim. He has defended the most barbaric of practices - Female genital mutilation - and there is no room for such views in the community of TCD, or anywhere."

JOE spoke to TCDSU President Keane about the letter he penned today.

"The practice of FGM is completely unacceptable and without basis in healthcare, and the practice should be completely eradicated across the world," he said. "There is simply no credible space in discourse, in Ireland or anywhere, for FGM apologists.

"There is also no difference whatsoever between FGM and so-called female circumcision- they are one and the same. The SU categorically condemns Selim’s comments. A member of the academic community in Trinity must do better, and the university needs to take this transgression very seriously.

"I am calling for the immediate dismissal of Selim by Trinity College, and an unequivocal condemnation of his stance from the University."

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland released a statement on Monday, condemning FGM as “a crime” and that the practice came from “tribal pre-Islamic era”.

The statement went on to say: "Islam specifically bans the practice of FGM as it is a barbaric practice and it is condemned in the strongest terms."

It is believed that almost 6,000 girls and women (5,790) living in Ireland have experienced FGM at some point in time.