UK Court Bars Woman From Taking Daughter to India Over Fears of Genital Mutilation
The judge called the ritual of female genital mutilation a “gross violation of human rights.”
A family court in Manchester has banned an Indian woman from taking her one-year-old daughter to India amid fears that the baby will be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), Manchester Evening News reported.
The judge at Manchester County and Family Court came to the conclusion after he heard from social workers that at least three other girls in the family had been subjected to the ritual when they were taken to India. Judge Robert Jordan ruled that the child, who will be two years old in summer, was at risk of “utterly unacceptable” procedure because religious and cultural pressure has overridden the mother’s “maternal instinct.”
After the social service workers made a request for an order against the ritual in the private family court hearing, the judge made an “FGM protection order” in Manchester. An FGM protection order gives police and local authorities the power to intervene to stop the practice. The power extends to barring parents from taking their children abroad, and seizure of passports in case the order is breached.
He described FGM as “gross abuse of human rights” and concluded that the woman facilitated the mutilation of her three older daughters. “As a consequence of religious and cultural pressure the mother facilitated the mutilation of her children. That cultural pressure still exists in their country of origin – and undoubtedly in this country,” he said.
Social workers told the judge that all four children were going to be given separate child protection plans.
Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, involves ritual cutting — either partially or completely — of the clitoral hood. This is often done in unhealthy conditions and sometimes without anesthesia. It has been linked to lifelong health complications, such as urinary tract infections, incontinence, and cases of excessive bleeding. The practice is illegal in the United Kingdom.
However, communities in which the ritual cutting is seen as desirable still carry it out in secret in the country. They often take their daughters to the country of origin for the ritual or have someone fly in for the procedure, fearing they would not be accepted in the community if the circumcision is not done.
A report released in India last month stated that the country is becoming a hub for FGM for the Dawoodi Bohra community members based abroad and expats. India has no law in place for FGM.
In the United Kingdom, the practice is particularly prevalent in the diaspora communities from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan, according to a National Center for Biotechnology Information report. The largest is the Somalian diaspora, with over 43,000 women and girls believed to be affected in 2011. The ritual is done before the child hits puberty. The issue of female genital mutilation received worldwide attention when Waris Dirie, a Somalian supermodel working in the United Kingdom, spoke about it in the 1997 interview with Marie Claire. Dirie went on to become a UN Ambassador for the fight against FGM and set up a foundation against it.