First UK prosecutions for FGM
The Crown Prosecution Service has announced the first prosecutions over female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena will be prosecuted for an alleged offence while working at the Whittington Hospital in London. Hasan Mohamed also faces a charge of intentionally encouraging FGM. Both men are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ court on 15 April 2014.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has said that the CPS was asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider evidence in relation to an allegation of FGM. It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital repaired FGM that had previously been performed on the woman, allegedly carrying out FGM himself.
Ms Saunders continued to say that “Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena for an offence contrary to S1(1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. I have also determined that Hasan Mohamed should face one charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of FGM, contrary to section 44(1) of the Serious Crime Act 2007, and a second charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dr Dharmasena to commit an offence contrary to S1(1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.”
The NHS trust Whittington Health, which runs the Whittington Hospital, said that it had contacted police and started its own investigation when staff raised concerns following the birth of the child in November 2012.
It is reported that prosecutors are also in discussions with police over investigations into two further cases, which are at an early stage.
The prosecutions come as MPs have said that it is “unforgivable” that there have been none in the UK since laws against FGM were introduced nearly 30 years ago. This was despite more than 140 referrals to police in the past four years.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced a 1985 Act, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, raising the maximum penalty from five to 14 years in prison. It also made it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad even in countries where it is legal.
Statistics have shown the approximately 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM.