To mark International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February we look back at a case from October last year.
A woman was found guilty of helping with the process of FGM of a British girl who was taken to Kenya for the procedure. It is the first time a person in England and Wales has been convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM) offences committed abroad.
In addition to making FGM a criminal offence, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it an offence to assist the practice of FGM as well as assisting a non-UK person to mutilate overseas a girl’s genitalia.
The girl disclosed to her school teacher about what had happened historically. A hospital examination showed that the girl had been subjected to FGM.
The senior crown prosecutor Patricia Strobino has said:
This kind of case will hopefully encourage potential victims and survivors of FGM to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they are supported, believed and also are able to speak their truth about what’s actually happened to them.
The reason for carrying out FGM varies from region to region and includes a mix of sociocultural factors within communities. In this case, the woman had told the Old Bailey that FGM was carried out for cultural reasons.
The World Health Organization has condemned the practice of FGM. There are no health benefits to the practice and it can have serious impacts on the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women.
FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights of girls and women and is practised on young girls without consent, making it a violation of children’s rights.
Civil law provides an avenue for protecting those who are at risk of FGM through Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (‘FGMPO’) granted by the family court. The girl or woman to be protected can apply, as well as the local authority or any other person with the permission of the court e.g. a relative, the police, a teacher.