A two year-old girl has returned home after the High Court issued a female genital mutilation (FGM) protection order.
The child had been taken from her home in England by her father who abandoned her in Guinea on the western coast of Africa. He later returned to the UK with her passport.
This move caused the girl’s mother to fear that her daughter was in danger of being subjected to FGM. The mother, who had been a victim of the practice herself, alerted the authorities to the possibility her daughter could endure the same treatment.
Metropolitan Police launched an investigation and a High Court judge issued an FGM protection order. These were introduced in the summer of 2015 as an amendment to the Serious Crimes Act. Each order is unique to the case it is issued for and can include measures such as confiscating the passport of the girl in question or members of her family if there is a suspicion they may try to inflict FGM on her abroad.
As the family had connections to the Netherlands, officials at the Dutch Embassy were also involved in the case. They arranged to have the girl removed from Guinea and returned to the UK.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Moylan declared that the girl needed to undergo a medical examination. He also said evidence from family members and police must be collected in order to establish the facts of the case. However, the judge did allow the details of the girl’s return to be published under the condition that she was not identified.
Although it is illegal in the country, FGM is still rife in Guinea. In fact, as many as 97 per cent of all women aged between 15 and 59 have been subjected to it, according to a recent United Nations report. FGM is “widespread in every region and among every ethnic, religious and social group” in Guinea, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.