"the mother facilitated the mutilation of her children"
A UK court has ruled out a mother travelling to India with her one-year-old daughter, amid fears that the young child will be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
A private court hearing took place in Manchester on Monday 5th March 2018, after social workers learned that the mother’s three older daughters, had been previously taken to India, where the genital mutilation procedure was carried out.
FGM, also known as female circumcision, is a medical procedure, which involves cutting, injuring or changing a girl’s genitals, for a religious or cultural purpose.
It is believed to be a way of ensuring virginity and chastity, and it is used as a safeguard to protect girls outside of marriage, from having sexual feelings.
The judge established that due to cultural pressures that the mother may be facing, the child was at risk of “utterly unacceptable” genital mutilation.
According to Manchester Evening News, Judge Robert Jordan said: “As a consequence of religious and cultural pressure, the mother facilitated the mutilation of her children.’’
“That cultural pressure still exists in their country of origin – and undoubtedly in this country.”
Social workers mentioned in court that the women’s four children were all subject to separate child protection reviews.
Female genital mutilation is illegal in the UK and is considered to be a form of child abuse. Laws in the UK state that anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison.
In addition, anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM could see a 7-year prison sentence.
Safeguarding measures have been put in place, where police and local authorities have the power to intervene and prevent FGM procedures from occurring. Parents can also be banned from taking their children abroad to have the procedure carried out, and their passports seized.
A 2016 study by Barnardo’s revealed that there was a high risk of FGM in ethnic women and that particular care should be taken during the summer holidays when young girls in the UK are out of school.
Communities across the UK, such as Kenyan, Egyptian, Somali, Nigerian, Kurdish, Yemeni and Indonesian women and girls, are all identified to be at risk of FGM.
According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), the procedure is said to carry out severe medical risks that can lead to life-changing health issues, including severe bleeding, infections, and complications during childbirth.
In India however, activists are still fighting for FGM to be criminalised. This is despite Indian officials insisting that there is no evidence to suggest that FGM takes place in the country. A number of women have since revealed their own experiences of FGM in India as children.
The practice is thought to be especially prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra sect in India, where at least 75% of women belonging to this group have undergone the procedure.
Global statistics indicate that more than 200 million women and girls across 30 countries are believed to have experienced FGM.
In February 2018, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, called FGM a “gross violation of the human rights of women and girls”. He warned that 68 million girls could face FGM by 2030 unless urgent action is taken.