March 21, 2014
Charges brought against London doctor in UK's first FGM prosecutionby Martin Bentham
The first British charges for female genital mutilation were announced today in a landmark decision by the country’s top prosecutor.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said two people, one a doctor, would appear in court charged with carrying out the crime at London’s Whittington Hospital in November 2012.
The alleged crimes involve the practice of “re-infibulation” in which the vagina of a woman previously subjected to FGM is sewn up again after giving birth to leave only a tiny opening.
Announcing today’s decision, Ms Saunders said: “The CPS was asked to consider evidence in relation to this allegation of female genital mutilation by the Metropolitan Police Service after it was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital, in London, repaired FGM that had previously been performed on the patient, allegedly carrying out FGM himself.
“Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined 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.
“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 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 .
“Dr Dharmasena and Hasan Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April. May I remind all those concerned that these individuals have a right to a fair trial and it is very important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
In decisions on four other cases, Ms Saunders said that there was insufficient evidence to justify a prosecution. She added that the introduction of anonymity for victims should now be considered to make it easier to bring charges in future cases.
She said the reason was that many victims were reluctant to testify in court - where their identities are currently made public - about such a “sensitive” part of their body.
She added: “Anonymity for victims of FGM is something that should be considered. It is a very difficult injury to talk about. It is an abuse of their body and it is not a part of the body that people want to talk about in public.”
The other case was referred to prosecutors by the Met in December and involved an allegation that two parents arranged for their daughter to undergo overseas a type of female genital mutilation involving a small pinprick.
The girl was examined and no physical evidence was found that the procedure had been performed, although this is not unusual for this type of mutilation. ...
FGM involves the removal of all or parts of the labia and clitoris, as well as sewing up the vagina. [Except when it doesn't] It can cause severe pain and long term physical and pyschological damage.
[This makes nonsense of the distinction between "bad" female genital cutting, when it may leave no trace, and "good" male genital cutting.]