FGM – What is it and what can we do to prevent it?
- FGM = Female Genital Mutilation
- There are four types of FGM, ranging from partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or labia, to partially sealing the vagina, to any other harmful procedure to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.
Where does FGM take place and how common is it?
- 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM in 30 countries. Half of the females who suffer this procedure live in Egypt, Ethiopia or Indonesia (UNICEF 20016)
FGM in England and Wales
- It is estimated that over 130,000 women are living with FGM in the UK.
- 60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK.
(Data from Equality Now and City University (2014))
What can we do about FGM?
- FGM has been a criminal offence in England and Wales since 1985. To date, there have been no successful prosecutions.
- It is also a criminal offence to assist a Non-UK person to mutilate overseas a girl’s genitalia, e.g. arranging for a relative to take a child abroad for the purpose of FGM/cutting.
- The criminal law concerning FGM is covered by:-
- The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003;
- The Serious Crime Act 2015
- The 2015 Act created new offences of:-
- Failing to protect a girl from risk of FGM; and
- duty to notify police of FGM. This was specifically aimed at those within regulated professions, e.g. health care professionals, teachers and social care workers, who may discover within the course of their work an act of FGM seems to have been carried out on a girl under 19.
- We can, therefore, if appropriate report suspected cases of FGM to the Police. Consideration must be given to the potential impact of this on the family and/or whether victims and witnesses will be prepared to co-operate with the Police.
- Other legal remedies can be sought in the Family Court, either by the matter being reported to Social Services, or by way of application for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO)
- Note, an FGMPO can be made either to protect a girl at risk of FGM or after FGM has been committed. FGMPOs can include:-
- surrender of passports into Court to prevent foreign travel;
- insistence upon medical examination, if it is suspected FGM has occurred;
- specific prohibitions and restrictions to protect a girl and can be made for a specific period of time, or until varied or discharged.
- Breach of an FGMPO, if proved, can be punishable by imprisonment.
What can Emery Johnson Astills do to assist you?
- If you are a parent who suspects your daughter may be at risk of FGM, or you are a friend or relative who is concerned a girl may be at risk of FGM, contact our Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) urgently for advice, assistance and representation. Legal Aid is available (provided the eligibility criteria are met in respect of the financial means test).
- Alternatively, if you are a parent/relative/friend and you are being investigated or prosecuted regarding alleged FGM, please contact our Criminal Department.
- If Social Services are involved with your family as a result of FGM or suspected risk of FGM, please urgently contact our Care Department.
- If you are uncertain which department you require, please telephone Emery Johnson Astills on 0116 255 4855 for further advice and assistance.