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Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in London

I was shocked when I heard that London accounted for over half the number of female genital mutilation (FGM) cases recorded nationwide.

Data released in December showed 758 new incidents were reported in our capital between July and September alone, with 1,385 flagged across the rest of the country.

FGM is a practice that would seem out of place in the dark ages, and yet it is being inflicted on young people living in our city today. Its frequency is a worrying phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Yet despite its apparent prevalence in the UK, not a single conviction for the illegal practice has ever been achieved.

We as politicians need to recognise and act on this disparity between the number of barbaric and life-changing acts being committed and the complete absence of accountability for the perpetrators.

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Sharia courts in Britain ‘lock women into marital captivity and do not officially report domestic violence’ says academic

Sharia courts operating in the UK are treating women as second-class citizens, a damning report has revealed.

The secretive Islamic tribunals, working mainly from mosques, settle financial and family disputes according to religious principles.

But the parallel justice system runs against the law of the land and is condemning British Muslim women to ‘marital captivity’ while failing to protect them from domestic violence, an independent study found.

In one controversial case, a sharia court refused to intervene even though a woman said her husband was denying her a divorce unless she gave him £10,000.

In another instance, a woman who claimed to be married to an abusive husband was told by a laughing judge: ‘Why did you marry such a person?’ Under Islamic law, men only need to say ‘I divorce you’ three times to separate from their wives while women need the sanction of clerics.

According to the report, a judge at an East London court told a couple who had already obtained a civil divorce that the paper counted for nothing.

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FGM suspects appear in court in UK’s first genital mutilation trial

A hospital doctor carried out female genital mutilation on a young mother after the birth of her first child in a London hospital, a court has heard .

Mounting the first prosecution against someone for carrying out FGM in England and Wales, the Crown alleged that Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, a junior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Whittington hospital, had mutilated a 24-year-old mother by the manner in which he had sewn her up after childbirth.

The woman had undergone type 3 FGM – in which part of the labia are sewn together – as a child in Africa, and during labour the doctor had made two cuts to her vaginal opening to ensure the safe delivery of her baby. When Dharmasena sewed her up, a midwife warned him that what he had done was illegal. He asked a consultant for advice, and the more senior doctor said it would be “painful and humiliating” to remove the stitch he had made, and it remained in place, the court heard.

“It is the stitching back together by Dr Dharmasena which the prosecution says is an offence under the act,” Kate Bex, prosecuting, told Southwark crown court.

Dharmasena, 32, is charged alongside another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, who is accused of aiding and abetting the doctor. Both men deny the charges.

The doctor, who qualified in 2005, and began specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in 2008, had been at the Whittington for a month when the events took place in 2012.


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So What Have Politicians Done for the UK End FGM Campaign In 2014?

It’s been a busy year for activists seeking to stop female genital mutilation in Britain. We’ve seen media campaigns, debates in parliament, more research on incidence and a full Home Affairs Committee investigation, chaired by Keith Vaz, which resulted in a report, Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan.

The UK government response to the Vaz Report was presented to parliament on 9 December by Theresa May, the Home Secretary. Amongst other things Ms May stressed the importance of the new hospital reporting protocols (to help us understand where FGM occurs and who must be protected) and confirmed that consultation is underway until early January on possible mandatory reporting (to whom?) by concerned professionals.

Importantly too, the home secretary stated that she sees no need to revisit the 2003 FGM legislation relating to reinfibulation; it is clearly already illegal – as the 2003 Act similarly indicates, worried plastic surgeons notwithstanding, may also be female genital cosmetic surgery.

Commentary on the government’s 9 December response so far has been muted – perhaps the NGOs are content, or prefer discretion – but personally I’m disappointed. The proposals as presented pass the buck massively. This top-level response is far more about consultation and leaving the professionals to decide, than, beyond necessary legislative tweaking, it is about what the government will itself take responsibility to deliver. For instance:


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Police target secret network of travel agents, doctors and taxi drivers who help female genital mutilation continue in Britain

Police are targeting a secret network of travel agents, money lenders, doctors and taxi drivers who help female genital mutilation happen in Britain, it emerged today.

Officers believe the network is allowing the brutal practice to continue under the radar as thousands of girls in the UK remain at risk.  The crime ring uses doctors willing to prescribe pain relief to victims, travel agents who arrange flights to countries where the cutting takes place and money lenders to provide finance for families.

FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985 but there has never been a successful prosecution. However, the country’s first trial for female genital mutilation is expected to take place within weeks, following a concerted campaign to bring FGM to an end. Experts have warned though that prosecutions are being hampered because doctors, teachers and social workers are systematically failing to report cases of genital mutilation to the police.

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