Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a delicate and sensitive subject. Children trust their parents and they believe that the decision made for them to go through FGM is made to benefit them. In reality, FGM is viewed as a cultural procedure and in fact there are no benefits.
FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs, for non-medical reasons. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls, between childhood and the age of 15.
The procedure has no health benefits for women but causes significant pain and permanent damage to the female genital organs. FGM increases the risk of infertility as well as complications during childbirth. There is also an increased risk of still births.
Despite the police and social services working together to safeguard children it is rare for an application to prevent FGM to be heard in the Family Courts. Family Courts in England and Wales have jurisdiction to impose one of two orders, either Wardship or an FGM Protection Order, to prevent the procedure being carried out. These orders are rarely imposed within the Family Courts because people have not come forward.
The Family Court has the power to make an FGM Protection Order under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 section 5A as inserted by section 73 of The Serious Crime Act 2015. The Court can make such an order for the purpose of protecting a person against the commission of an FGM offence or against whom any such offence has been committed. The Court must have regard to all of the circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of the person to be protected.
If you are concerned that someone you know may have been exposed to FGM, or is at risk of being exposed, please do not hesitate to contact us at Emery Johnson Astills. Emery Johnson Astills are experts in family law and our specialist solicitors are here to support you and advise you through this time.
As mentioned, FGM is a sensitive subject but if you recognise that someone is at risk and report it, hopefully we can work towards eliminating the effect it has.
FGM is a criminal offence. The maximum sentence for either carrying out FGM, or assisting, is 14 years imprisonment. To date, no prosecutions have been made under UK legislation. With new guidance for local authorities the Family Courts will have more support in the future in working towards eliminating FGM.
Between October 2014 and September 2015, 5,484 cases of FGM were reported. A new case of FGM is now reported in England every 96 minutes. These latest statistics suggest that with new guidance raising awareness more people are coming forward to report FGM.