Articles on Shifting Sands
First FGM court order granted in South Yorkshire
A High Court judge has granted a court order offering protection to a girl believed to be at risk of FGM, following an investigation by South Yorkshire Police.
On Friday 12 June at a hearing in family court, a three-year-old South Yorkshire girl was made a ward of court and placed under the protection of a non-molestation order.
Officers from South Yorkshire Police identified the girl as being a potential victim of FGM. The decision at court prevents the girl’s family from engaging in or preparing for any act of FGM for the child, either in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
It also prevents the family from taking the child out of the country, making travel plans or trying to obtain travel documents for the child.
The non-molestation order prevents any violence or threat of violence, including FGM, against the child.
Breaches of the orders could result in a jail term.
Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, it is illegal for FGM to be performed. It is also an offence for a UK national or permanent UK resident to carry out FGM, or help and enable someone else to carry out FGM. This applies even when the victim is taken to a country where this practise is legal.
If convicted, the perpetrator can face up to 14 years in prison.
Detective Sergeant Suzanne Bluck, deputy lead for honour based abuse and FGM for South Yorkshire Police, said: “The decision of the High Court judge last week is a real breakthrough for our force and the protection we can offer to victims and potential victims of this horrific crime.
“This is an incredibly taboo issue that we need to continue to talk about if we are going to prevent this monstrosity happening to our young women.
“Let’s be very clear – female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse and as such, it will not be tolerated and we will use whatever options are available to us to safeguard those at risk.”
The practise of FGM involves any procedure that removes part or all of the external female genitalia, or any procedure that involves injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
While it is thought that the practise predominantly takes place outside the UK, police believe it is a vastly under-reported crime.
This was first published here.
The Daily Mail report on the case published 16 June 2015 can be accessed here.
About the Author - Bríd Hehir
Bríd is a retired health professional. She started her career as a nurse and midwife in Africa where she worked for almost four years. She encountered FGM/C in Ethiopia. She then moved to London where she worked in the National Health Service as a midwife, community nurse, health visitor, reproductive and sexual health nurse and manager over a period of 30 years. She did not encounter FGM/C during that time despite working with immigrant communities who are reported to practice it still. She is puzzled by the current reported prevalence of the practice, the official response and associated activism. And is worried that they might cause more harm than good.