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What is Female Genital Mutilation?

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there’s no medical reason for this to be done. FGM is often performed by traditional circumcisers or ‘cutters’ who do not have any medical training. FGM is often carried out using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. FGM often happens against a girl’s will without her consent and she may have to be forcibly restrained.

FGM is increasingly becoming more common in babies and infants in the UK. FGM expert and barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman has said that it is ‘almost impossible to detect’ as girls are being subjected to FGM at a much younger age in an attempt to evade the law. These young girls are often below school age and, as such, it is difficult for public authorities to become aware the procedure has been undertaken.

A mother of three has become the first person to be found guilty of FGM in the UK in a landmark verdict given at the Old Bailey in London on Friday 1st February 2019. The mother will be sentenced on 8th March 2019 when she faces up to 14 years in prison.

This is the first time anyone has been convicted of FGM offences since the practice was criminalised in the UK with the introduction of The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act in 1985.

The offence leading to the recent conviction was discovered by hospital staff in August 2017, when the mother of the child called for an ambulance because the girl was bleeding heavily. Hospital staff alerted Police who did not believe the mother’s claim that the child had fell onto a kitchen cupboard whilst trying to get a biscuit. Evidence was found of deliberate mutilation of the child’s genitals using a scalpel. The child has now made a good recovery and been placed in the care of a new family.

More than 18,000 FGM survivors have been recorded by the NHS since 2015.

The Metropolitan Police lead officer on FGM, Inspector Allen Davis, has said that Police are working with other authorities and charities to prevent the practice happening in the UK and abroad. He warned ‘FGM is still happening across the UK, behind a cloak of secrecy. The young victims often have no way to speak out or may not even know what is happening to them.’

The recent conviction is a revolutionary verdict. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said ‘we will not tolerate FGM and not rest until perpetrators are brought to justice.’

Here at Emery Johnson Astills, our focus is on client care, ensuring that we assist and support every client from initial advice through to Court proceedings, if appropriate. If you require expert legal assistance relating to Domestic Violence including concerns relating to FGM, contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) or if you require advice following Social Services becoming involved with you and your family please contact a member of our Care Team. You can contact us on 0116 255 4855 or by contacting by email on DVAD@johnsonastills.com  or careteam@johnsonastills.com