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Judge orders return of 13 year-old from Sudan

A High Court judge has ordered that a 13 year-old British girl from Kent is to return from Sudan.

The girl had travelled to the North African country with her mother. Once there, her mother left her in the care of her relatives and returned to England. She claimed that she was “fleeing” the girl’s “manipulative” and “violent” father.

However, social services in Kent applied to the High Court for the girl to be returned. This was because they feared she was in danger of female genital mutilation (FGM) while in Sudan.

The local authority claimed that “injunctive steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency” as the girl’s family considered FGM acceptable. The girl’s mother denied that her daughter was in any danger did not think she would be forced to undergo the procedure.

Sitting at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Baker approved the local authority’s application for an FGM protection order and told the mother to arrange for the girl’s immediate return to England. He also ruled that the girl could not be publicly identified.

Such orders were introduced in July. Shortly afterwards, three sisters were put under protection amid concerns that their father wanted to take them to Nigeria in order to undergo FGM.

According to the NHS, over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year. While official estimates say there are around 66,000 women in the country who are living with the consequences of the procedure, the true number is unknown “due to the “hidden” nature of the crime”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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