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Published On: July 8, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

“FGM – is not a woman’s issue; it is everyone’s issue” & harmful practices – increased risks from 19th July?

Crime-Stoppers – 3 week July ’21 campaign

Crime-Stoppers are running a three-week campaign from 5 July 2021 to 25 July 2021.  They are piloting two areas in London, namely Brent and Ealing.

The campaign emphasises that FGM is not just a woman’s issue.  It is everyone’s issue.  As a reminder, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed. This procedure has no medical basis. It is also known as female circumcision or cutting and by other terms, such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez, and khitan among others.

Crime-Stoppers are an independent charity and provide 100% anonymity.  They are entirely separate from the police although they may pass intelligence to the police and other partners.  They will not take down telephone numbers or track IP addresses.  Their aim is to help those that are vulnerable and marginalized in society.

FGM is form of child abuse and occurs to both girls and women who live in the UK. It is a crime and must be tackled head-on.  With Covid-19 restrictions easing and possibly, carefully thought-out travel routes that took place during the pandemic, cases of FGM that took place in the past year or those being planned may come to the surface.

We must support campaigns such as the one being run by Crime-Stoppers which guarantees 100% anonymity.  FGM, and other harmful practices, are highly complex and intricate matters and sensitivity is key when dealing with such cases.

As already mentioned, those who are in communities where FGM is practiced may not necessarily see it as being a crime.  FGM is a criminal offence. It is a form of violence against women and girls and in the latter case, it is child abuse. Support would be required together with firm, strong action to prevent its occurrence.

Force Marriage Unit – statistics

We have received statistics for 2020 from the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU).

The FMU has confirmed that it gave advice or support in 759 cases.  These cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation (FGM).  Out of these cases, three cases related to both forced marriage and FGM and six cases solely related to FGM.

The 759 cases reported is said to be a 44% decrease on the average cases that were received on an annual basis between 2011 and 2019.  This decrease in reporting is being apportioned to the current pandemic, and the restrictions that have been imposed upon weddings and overseas travel.

Legal protection

You can apply for an FGM Order by completing application form FGM001.  There is no court fee payable to make this application.

FGM is a crime.  Anyone who commits FGM faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.  If someone is found guilty of failing to protect a girl from the risk of FGM that individual faces up to seven years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.

As a reminder, it is an offence for any person, regardless of their nationality or residence status, to perform FGM in England and Wales, or assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself in England and Wales.

An FGM Protection Order is a civil law measure which provides protection and a way of safeguarding victims and potential victims of FGM.  Protective Orders can be obtained which include surrendering a passport to prevent the person at risk from being taken abroad to undergo FGM or a requirement that no-one arranges for FGM to be performed on the person being protected.

Persons who are able to apply for an FGM Protection Order are:-

  • The person who has undergone or is at risk of FGM (i.e. the victim)
  • If someone you know is in danger of FGM – so any other person, for example the police, a teacher, charity or a family member with the permission of the court
  • A local authority

World-wide practice

FGM is a practice that takes place worldwide.  It is considered that there are 30 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where this is a wide practice.

It can also take place in western Europe and other developed countries where there are immigrant and refugee communities.  It is a complex issue and an extremely harmful practice. Nonetheless, those that practice FGM consider it to be an acceptable practice as it protects their daughters and their cultural identity.  Many see it as a way of ensuring virginity and chastity as they believe it facilitates the prevention of sex outside of marriage and for young girls to have sexual feelings.

It is not pinpointed to any specific religion or culture.  It is not carried out in accordance with any religious doctrine, although many will claim that it is done in accordance with religious beliefs.

Travelling abroad – summer school holidays

There is always a risk during school holidays of children being taken abroad, for example to certain countries in Africa, for FGM to be performed on a young girl.  Travel routes being organized may not be direct from England and Wales and may be via another country.  It is known that travel may be organized via Kings Cross St Pancras into Paris, whereby a flight is then booked from Paris to the destination point.  Certain airlines are usually favoured.

Our approach – cases involving harmful practices and domestic abuse

At Anthony Gold we take a firm, robust and sensitive approach to cases involving various forms of harmful practices. Whether you are being forced into a marriage, at risk of FGM (or have been a victim of it) or are being subjected to any other form of domestic abuse, including coercive and controlling behaviour and financial abuse, we will advise you promptly and carefully.

These are complex cases and when issues of religion and culture are a dominant feature, these factors can add additional concerns and pressures upon the one being subjected to the abuse.  We take a non-judgmental approach and pride ourselves on being able to advise on a variety of matters enabling individuals to leave abusive relationships and obtain urgent protective orders, including urgent financial provision for separating spouses, and urgent orders in relation to the arrangements for children including orders preventing a child from being removed to another part of the country or taken abroad.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship and would like to discuss your matter in confidence, please do get in touch with us.  If you are in an abusive relationship and would like urgent confidential advice, please contact Nazia Rashid on 020 7940 4000.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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