Muslim toddler taken in custody by court because of genital mutilation risk
Three-year-old girl from South Yorkshire judged to be at risk of FGM
She has been made a ward of court and subject to non-molestation order
If her family take her out of Britain they could face a prison sentence
David Cameron has announced new laws to prevent FGM being carried out on British girls abroad
A three-year-old girl has been made a ward of court in order to protect her from being forced to undergo genital mutilation.
A High Court judge issued a ruling banning the toddler’s family from taking her out of the UK or trying to obtain a passport for her.
The girl, from South Yorkshire, is protected by a non-molestation order which carries the threat of jail for anyone breaking it.
The ruling comes as David Cameron has announced plans to rush through new laws banning girls being taken abroad to undergo FGM.
At a family court hearing on Friday, the judge ruled that the three-year-old’s family should be prevented from engaging in or preparing for any act of genital mutilation in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
The non-molestation order prevents any violence or threat of violence, including genital mutilation, against the child.
Anyone who breaks the order could face up to 14 years in prison.
Detective Sergeant Suzanne Bluck, of South Yorkshire Police, said: ‘The decision of the High Court judge last week is a real breakthrough for our force and the protection we can offer to victims and potential victims of this horrific crime.
‘This is an incredibly taboo issue that we need to continue to talk about if we are going to prevent this monstrosity happening to our young women.
‘Let’s be very clear – female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse and as such, it will not be tolerated and we will use whatever options are available to us to safeguard those at risk.’
FGM, which involves removing all or part of a girl’s genitalia, has been banned in the UK since 2003.
It is illegal to carry out FGM, or to help or enable someone else to carry it out, no matter where in the world the crime takes place.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 applies to all British residents even if the act happens in a country where FGM is legal.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced that laws to stop vulnerable girls being taken to foreign countries for FGM would be imposed before the summer holidays.
Courts will have new powers to force people to give up their passports and travel documents if they are suspected of planning to carry out the barbaric practice.
The FGM ‘protection orders’ will allow the authorities to step in and protect potential victims before they are taken abroad.
A PRACTICE AFFECTING MILLIONS: WHAT IS FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the deliberate removal of all or part of the external female genitalia.
The World Health Organisation describes FGM as any procedure that injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is also referred to as female circumcision or female cutting.
FGM is mostly carried out on young girls in adolescence but is also carried out during childhood and sometimes on babies.
In some cultures, it is seen as a right of passage into womanhood and a condition of marriage. Some believe the genitals will be ‘unclean’ if the female does not have FGM.
Vulnerable: FGM affects millions of young girls around the world (picture posed by models)
There is also a common belief that women need to have FGM to have babies. But, in fact, FGM can cause infertility and an increased risk of childbirth complications.
The procedure is often carried out by a woman with no medical training. Anaesthetics and antiseptic treatments are not generally used and the practice is usually carried out using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades.
The procedure can cause severe bleeding and infections, which can last the woman’s entire lifetime.
It is estimated that 3million girls are cut every year across the world. Around 23,000 of these crimes are carried out in the UK. The practice is particularly rife in some African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.