For the first time since female genital mutilation was banned in the United Kingdom over 30 years ago, a mother has been convicted of the practice performed on her daughter in 2017 when the little girl was three years old.
The 37-year-old mother is originally from Uganda, where the practice is not uncommon, and the Crown Prosecution Services brought the case to trial in 2017 after her daughter had the procedure done in her home in 2017.
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The little girl's parents brought her to the hospital with injuries about 12 hours after the procedure happened, and authorities discovered her genitalia had been removed or partially removed. The parents insisted the injuries were accidental, a fall from the kitchen counter into a metal-lined cupboard door, but doctors quickly determined that simply was not consistent with the injury, but was consistent with female genital mutilation. The parents, including the girl's father, originally from Ghana, were arrested but released on bail later. Eventually, the father was acquitted of all charges.
Initially, the little girl told Metropolitan Police that her parents' story was what happened, but later, she admitted she'd been held down and cut. Lynette Woodrow is with the Crown Protection Service and said that female genital mutilation leaves emotional and physical scars on their victims that can last their entire lives. A three-year-old has no power to fight back, and she'd been coached to lie, which made it all the sadder.
The investigation found that the mother was involved with what seemed to be witchcraft, finding some spells and curses in her home. They found two cow tongues in her freezer that had wire and nails and a small knife embedded, among other things.
The jury quickly delivered a guilty verdict, and the judge told the mother her sentence for what she did to her daughter would be a lengthy one in prison. She violated the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act that was passed originally in 1985 and then updated in 2003.
The United Nations views female genital mutilation as a cultural practice, as it's practiced in dozens of countries and religions. According to the U.N.'s Population Fund, it is not just practiced by Muslim groups, but some Ethiopian Jews and Christians as well as specific traditional African religions. It's also done in parts of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America and most commonly, Africa.
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Last November, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the 1996 law banning FGM was a violation of the U.S. Constitution after a Detroit, Michigan doctor was acquited for mutilating the genitals of several seven-year-old-girls.
Allen Davis is the lead officer for FGM with the Metropolitan Police and said that this conviction is significant and hopefully sends the clear message that FGM cases will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, and victims will be given full support.
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