London mum guilty of mutilating daughter in landmark FGM trial
- Reuters 02nd Feb 2019 10:51:01 GMT +0300
A London mother was found guilty of subjecting her 3-year-old daughter to female genital mutilation on Friday in Britain’s first conviction for FGM - more than 30 years after the practice was outlawed.
The Ugandan mother-of-two, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could face up to 14 years in jail.
Police and anti-FGM campaigners said the conviction sent a strong message that FGM was child abuse and would be prosecuted.
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“It’s going to send a shockwave around the community. It’s a wake-up call. It will be a huge deterrent,” activist Hibo Wardere told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
British interior minister Sajid Javid welcomed the “landmark conviction”.
“(FGM) is a sickening, depraved, form of child abuse and we will do all we can to ensure all perpetrators are brought to justice,” he tweeted.
Justice Philippa Whipple adjourned sentencing until March 8.
Police launched an investigation after the girl’s parents rushed her to hospital on Aug. 28, 2017, following severe bleeding and doctors found three cuts to her genitalia.
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In the following months the mother performed dozens of witchcraft spells - two involving cows’ tongues with nails embedded in them - to try to silence investigators and the director of public prosecutions.
The girl’s Ghanaian father, who was also on trial, was acquitted of FGM and of failing to protect his daughter from the risk of FGM.
During the trial, the 37-year-old mother told London’s Central Criminal Court that her daughter had hurt herself falling from a kitchen worktop at their east London flat.
But the girl told police she had been held down and cut by a “witch”. Her older brother later wrote a letter to police saying his mother had cut her.
Four doctors, including two leading FGM experts, said the cuts had been made with a sharp implement such as a scalpel and could not be explained by a fall.
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The obstetrician who treated the girl told the jury her injuries were like cases of botched FGM he had seen in his native Sudan.
The court heard the mother turned to witchcraft to try to halt police investigations following her arrest.
Aside from the cows’ tongues, police found 40 limes in a freezer at her home containing the names of people involved in the case with messages such “I freeze your mouth” and “I freeze you out of my life”.
“Cloak of Secrecy”
The mother, a former care worker, said she did not come from an ethnic group that practiced FGM and no motive was given in court.
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An expert on FGM said the practice was not connected to witchcraft.
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FGMfemale genital mutilationUK FGM caseUgandan mum