The mother of a three year old girl has become the first person in England and Wales to be convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM) offences since the practice was criminalised in the UK in 1985.
The defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of committing FGM in August 2017. During the procedure at her mother’s home in north London parts of the girl’s genitalia were either cut and removed or partially removed. The girl’s father, who faced the same charges, was acquitted by the jury.
The girl’s mother claimed her daughter’s injuries were caused when she fell from a kitchen counter and onto an open, metal lined cupboard door. None of the medical experts who gave evidence supported that claim. The Old Bailey heard that she was deliberately cut and the injuries amounted to FGM.
During the police investigation it was discovered that the mother had an interest in witchcraft. They found a number of spells and curses in her home. This included two cow tongues in her freezer bound in wire with nails and a small knife embedded in them. There were also 40 limes and other fruit which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them.
The names included those of police officers in the case, CPS staff and social workers. These people were to "shut up" and "freeze their mouths".
She kept a diary and it included a prayer to a female deity: “I come before thee today with tears in my eyes, fear in my heart. My mother, I made a choice in my life with that choice I could be going to jail”. When interviewed by police she denied practising witchcraft but refused to answer all questions about the items in her freezer.
The defendant was born in Uganda and has lived in the UK for a number of years. FGM is banned in both countries.
Lynette Woodrow Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor at CPS London South, said: “Female genital mutilation has an appalling physical and emotional impact on victims that usually lasts their entire life.
“We can only imagine how much pain this vulnerable young girl suffered and how terrified she was.
“A three-year-old has no power to resist or fight back. Her mother then coached her to lie to the police so she wouldn’t get caught but this ultimately failed. We will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit this sickening offence.”
The mother and father were both charged with:
o Count 1: Female Genital Mutilation, contrary to section 1(1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Both defendants on 28 August 2017 excised, or otherwise mutilated, the whole or any part of the labia minora or clitoris of the complainant.
o Count 2: Failing to protect a girl from the risk of genital mutilation, contrary to Section 3a of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Both defendants on 28 August 2017 had parental responsibility for the complainant, a girl under the age of 16 against whom an offence of female genital mutilation was committed.
Female genital mutilation has been a specific offence in the UK since the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 came into force on 16 September 1985. The 1985 Act was replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. This case was the first time that anyone in England and Wales was charged with failing to protect a person from of FGM under section 3a of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
Reporting restrictions will remain in place preventing the defendants from being identified. Complainants in FGM cases have lifelong anonymity.