Change in law: Female Genital Mutilation

Last month (July 2015) the law relating to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was extended to give wider powers to stop FGM being committed abroad. The Serious Crime Act 2015 amended parts of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

The problem identified with the law was in relation to FGM practiced outside the UK jurisdiction. As the law stood, it was prohibited for a UK national or a permanent UK resident to perform or assist with FGM. This left a loophole in the law, and the Crown Prosecution Service found that there was a small number of cases where they could not prosecute for FGM committed abroad because the person involved was not a UK national or a permanent resident.

The law has now been widened to prohibit all residents of the UK, regardless of their legal status.

Additionally, a FGM Order has also been introduced for the first time. This new court order is designed to give a larger selection of powers to the court for the protection of victims against the commission of FGM. Breaching this order is a criminal offence.

 

Among the first cases to be brought using this new legislation was by Nigerian parents of three girls, aged 12, 9 and 6. The parents were divorced and the mother had been subjected to domestic violence.

At the time of the application, the father was in Nigeria, although he visited the UK frequently.

The children’s mother became concerned after the father indicated that the children should visit him in Nigeria during the school holidays to undergo genital circumcision. He had already made necessary preparation for the ceremony.

It was agreed by the Court that an FGM protection order should be granted, given that there was a very high risk of that procedure being inflicted on one or more of the girls if they were not protected. The order stipulated that the father was not to come within 100 meters of the children’s home or school and the girls were not to be removed from the UK to Nigeria without permission of the court.

Earlier this week (11th August 2015), the father challenged this decision. It is anticipated that the court hearing will be at the end of September 2015.