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Archive for March, 2018

London father cleared over FGM offences

A father has been found not guilty of organising for his nine-year-old daughter to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) to punish her.

The 50-year-old man, of south London, had been accused of twice arranging for someone to cut the girl with a razor as she lay on a mat in the hallway.

He was also acquitted of five other charges at the Old Bailey, including child cruelty and wounding with intent.

The man, originally from West Africa, had denied all of the accusations.

The case is only the second FGM prosecution brought to court in the UK, both of which led to acquittals.

During the trial, jurors were told the child could not recall the identity of the person who allegedly subjected her to the ordeal twice between 2010 and 2013.

The girl said she cried in pain and begged for it to stop but her father just encouraged the cutter, the court heard.

The allegations came to light after the girl told a friend, whose mother contacted Childline.

FGM ‘victim’ tells court how she begged her dad to stop the ‘terrible thing

A woman has revealed how she begged her father to stop the ‘terrible thing’ as he used a razer blade to cut her private parts. The teenager, who cannot be identified, claims she was just ten years old when her private parts were sliced with a razor blade as a punishment on two separate occasions. She told the Old Bailey that her father, a 50 year-old devout Christian, ignored her pleas and even ‘egged’ on the person cutting her at their family home in south London.


The alleged victim said: ‘I was asked to lie down on a mat. I knew what was going to happen. I was begging stop, stop doing it because it was really painful. It did bleed a lot as well. ‘He wouldn’t listen. He would still encourage the person to do it. He just gave the person a signal to keep on doing it. I could feel the really deep cuts inside. I was just supposed to take it.’ She said she was not given any painkilling drugs and felt pain when she sat down or urinated in the days afterwards. The teenager said she didn’t understand what was really happening at the time because of her age.


he said: ‘I would do something wrong and he would threaten me with it. He accused me of quite a lot of things I never did. A large sum of money went missing and I swear I never took it.’ She said she was cut twice in the same year and was later threatened with it without it happening.



Telford leader calls for child sexual exploitation inquiry

Telford & Wrekin Council has called on home secretary Amber Rudd to commission a public inquiry into cases of child sexual exploitation (CSE), specifically in Telford.

A number of reviews of CSE have already taken place in the borough but the council now believes only an independent inquiry commissioned by the government is now appropriate.

Seven men were jailed in 2013 for child prostitution in the town after the Operation Chalice investigation.

However, fresh allegations were made in the Sunday Mirror that up to 1,000 children could have been victim to abuse in Telford over the last 40 years.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s leader Shaun Davies (Lab) said: “I grew up in Telford and was at school when many of the horrific cases reported over the last few days took place. As a resident, a contemporary of those who suffered and now as a parent, these stories sicken me.

Millions of girls are still being mutilated – let’s use International Women’s Day to talk about FGM

The woman who cut me was my mother’s friend. She just thought it was the normal thing to do. I’ve since asked her why she did it, and her excuse was that when I was born they could tell from my eyes that I was strong-headed and they wanted to tame me, to protect me from their forecast promiscuity

I was 15 years old when I got married. It had been arranged by my family and I’d been sent to America to live with a man I barely knew. A child, alone in an unfamiliar country, I discovered that I was a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM), when I had my vagina cut back open to have sex.

I was subjected to infibulation, the most extreme form of FGM, when I was just one week old in my home country, The Gambia.

The woman who cut me was my mother’s friend. She just thought it was the normal thing to do. I’ve since asked her why she did it, and her excuse was that when I was born they could tell from my eyes that I was strong-headed and they wanted to tame me, to protect me from their forecast promiscuity.

As an imam, I’m often asked about women’s role in Islam – and this is my message for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is an incredibly important date, which should act as a reminder that we must live its values on every other day of the year. This year, more than ever, men have a responsibility to take part in the conversation, and have a responsibility to do what they can to further women’s rights. It is not women’s responsibility alone.

I am often asked about women’s role in Islam. The reality is that women are an integral part of both Islam and Britain alike. The Quran regards men and women as equals in the sight of God. It’s time, then, that we champion the success of Muslim women such as Malala Yousafzai, Mishal Husain and Nadiya Hussain, who are throwing a positive spotlight on the contribution that Muslim women make to British society and who give young girls up and down the country and around the world someone to look up to.

Islam grants women, as it does men, fundamental rights to life, property, and opinion, and has done so for more than 14 centuries. However, it cannot be denied that despite this, they’ve had to fight for equality every step of the way. Men have sought control over their finances, opinions and fundamental rights to life, but “Time’s Up” on those controls; it’s time for a cultural shift.

A woman’s strength should be celebrated and supported – not abused or silenced.

Reported cases of FGM rise sharply in UK yet still no court convictions

When detective chief inspector Leanne Pook began investigating allegations that a father in Bristol had allowed his six-year-old daughter to undergo female genital mutilation, she hoped the case – the second to reach court – could go on to make legal history. It has been more than three decades since FGM was made illegal in the UK, but there is yet to be a successful prosecution. The first case, in 2015, resulted in an NHS doctor being acquitted in less than 30 minutes.

In the runup to the trial DCI Pook, the FGM police lead for Avon and Somerset, said she felt a huge sense of responsibility to prove the police were taking the hidden crime seriously. Yet, far from becoming a landmark victory, the Bristol case collapsed last month after a judge at Bristol Crown Court ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty and described aspects of the case as “deeply troubling”.

‘I was crying with unbearable pain’: study reveals extent of FGM in India

Research shows 75% incidence of female genital mutilation in Bohra Muslim community, despite government claim there is no evidence of the practice

Just weeks after the Indian government declared that there was no data to support the existence of female genital mutilation in the country, a small study has shown a 75% incidence across the Bohra Muslim community.

“My mum told me that a lady would come to remove some extra skin from down there. When the day came, my great-grandmother was holding me tight on her bed,” said 26-year-old “SH”, a law student cited in the report, recalling how she had been cut at the age of seven.

She remembers “sitting on the toilet, crying of unbearable pain, too scared to even pee”. Her mother had reassured her that “everyone in the building has undergone this procedure”, referring to the blocks of flats in Byculla, in the heart of Mumbai, where the Bohra Muslim community has lived for decades.

Her account and those of 83 women and 11 men across five Indian states are included in the first-ever study about female genital mutilation (FGM) in India, compiled by three independent researchers and a coalition of Bohra women against FGM.

The qualitative research, which was released in February, shows the prevalence of FGM among India’s Bohra Muslims – 75% of respondents said they had subjected their daughters to the practice. The survey was conducted with respondents in communities across the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Kerala.

Rise in reports of honour crime

Harrowing new figures have shown a rising number of victims of so-called ‘honour crimes’ coming forward amid campaigning efforts to raise awareness. Reports of honour based abuse have risen four-fold in West Yorkshire since 2015, police figures reveal, with reports of forced marriages trebling in this time. Leading charities, revealing they too have seen a 40 per cent rise in calls for help in the area in the past year, say massive steps are being taken by agencies prepares to tackle the issues. But experts say still more can be done nationally to ease the stigma and eliminate a persistent belief that such abuse is acceptable in any form. “There needs to be more education around choice and consent,” said Natasha Rattu from charity Karma Nirvana. “A lot of victims that contact us don’t realise they are being forced to marry – they say it’s an arranged marriage that they don’t want.”

A major effort in raising the profile of issues is seeing results, the region’s policing lead for forced marriage has said, amid a steep rise in the number of people coming forward. Honour crime reports rose from 44 in March 2015 to 176 in 2017. At the same time, reports of forced marriage trebled, from 90 to 266. West Yorkshire Police says it is encouraging that people feel more confident in coming forward, and that it is committed to this issue as a priority. The force has now revealed details of the number of forced marriage protection orders to safeguard victims recorded since new laws were introduced. A total of 33 orders were recorded in 2016, and 49 in 2017. “There is no honour in any form of abuse,” said Detective Chief Inspector Fran Naughton, Central Safeguarding Governance Unit. “We are trying to get the message across that, regardless of what someone may have been told by their family, everyone has the right to choose and forcing someone to marry against their will is a crime.”