The mother of a three-year-old girl has become the first person in the UK to be convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
FGM was made illegal in the UK more than three decades ago but prosecutors have struggled to secure a conviction.
In the landmark case, the child’s mother, a Ugandan woman living in East London along with the child’s father were both accused of cutting their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday.
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 child’s parents were charged with two counts relating to FGM. The first count was that both defendants mutilated the whole or any part of the complainant’s genitalia and the second count was that both parents failed to protect the girl from the risk of genital mutilation.
The defendant claimed her daughter’s injuries were caused when she fell from a kitchen counter and onto an open, metal lined cupboard door.
However, 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.
The jury in the case acquitted the father of all charges, but the child’s mother was found guilty of both charges and became the first person in England and Wales to be charged with failing to protect a person from FGM under section 3a of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
Lynette Woodrow, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “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.
“We will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit this sickening offence.”
Campaigners now hope the conviction would encourage other victims to report the crime.
Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity, said: “It will give victims the confidence to come forward … It will give police forces, social services, teachers, frontline midwives the expectation that something can finally succeed.”
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