The mother of a three year old girl who became the first person to be convicted of female genital mutilation offences in England and Wales has been sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment.

This is the first time that anyone in the UK has been charged with failing to protect a person from FGM under section 3a of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

Background

The mother was born in Uganda and has lived in the UK for a number of years. FGM is banned in both countries.

The mother (37) and father (43) were both charged with:
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.

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.

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.

“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 National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for FGM, Commander Ivan Balhatchet, said:

“We have always been clear that prosecutions alone will not stop this abuse, however this guilty verdict sends a strong message that police will make every effort possible to pursue those committing this heinous crime.”

The procedure took place at her mother's home in north London, where parts of the three year old’s genitalia were cut and removed or partially removed.

The 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 jury at the Old Bailey found that the three year old was deliberately cut and the injuries amounted to FGM.

The father was acquitted by the jury

Hilary Lennox is a barrister called to the Bar in Ireland in 2008, Northern Ireland in 2013 and England & Wales in 2013. In addition she has worked in a law firm in New York and the Innocence Project in Wisconsin. Hilary specialises in international human rights and family law. Hilary is instructed to bring cases on behalf of individuals before the European Court of Human Rights most recently against Ireland. She speaks French, Spanish and Irish.