Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM is described as an evil practice internationally condemned and in clear violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950. “Fornah v SSHD [2005] EWCA Civ 680”.

FGMs has been commonly practiced in various countries around the world mostly in East, North East and West Africa. It is also common in parts of the Middle East and Asia. FGM has also been practiced within some immigrant community in Europe. The practice of FGM is properly described as child abuse but those practicing these horrific acts refers to this as “their religion and tradition”. There are various different types of mutilation which may vary, these are referenced in the WHO Fact and classified into 4 major types as set out below:

• Type 1: Clitoridectomy, this is the partial removal of the clitoris
• Type 2: The excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia.
• Type 3: Infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal.
• Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.

The UNICEF uses a different classification set out below as;

• Cut, no flesh removed
• Cut, some flesh removed
• Sewn closed; and
• Type not determined

It is reported that a large number of girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM across over 20 countries. The age in which a girl or woman undergoes FGM varies as between countries of origin but is thought to be between infancy and age 15 and before puberty. FGM is broadly practiced in many countries around the world. Experts say that Female Genital Mutilation can be fatal health problems.

It is reported that if FGM does not take place in England then girls and young woman are likely to be taken to countries of origin for FGM to be undertaken. This is more commonly during the lengthy summer holidays to allow them to “heal” before their return to school.

The undertaking of FGM is a clear violation of the absolute right pursuant to Article 3 of the ECHR which states that no one will be “subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. It is a human rights violation and a form of child abuse that clearly breaches the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Female Genital Mutilation was first criminalised in the United Kingdom under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 which was later replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

Section 70(1) of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended section 3 and 4 of the 2003 Act to cover prohibited acts done outside of the UK by a UK national or person resident in the UK. These changes permit the 2003 Act to capture offences of FGM committed abroad by or against those who are at the time habitually resident in the UK.

There is a duty to report requiring specified professionals in England and Wales to report “known” cases of FGM to the police.

There are ranges of interventions available in the Family Court in the event that there is evidence to suggest that a girl has undergone FGM or is at risk of FGM which include:

• Removing of a child using powers of Police Protection (pursuant to section 46(1) CA 1989.
• An emergency protection order (pursuant to section 44 CA 1989.
• Care or supervision orders (pursuant to section 31 CA 1989.
• An order made under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court such as wardship.
• FGM Protection Orders.

FGM is a criminal offence and no girl or woman should be put through such torture. If you or anyone that you know is at risk of FGM feel free to give us call on 0121 233 2042 and we will try and assist you or point you to the right direction.