Saturday 19 October 2019

Mother is first person convicted of Female Genital Mutilation

The 37-year-old Ugandan woman was found guilty of cutting her three-year-old daughter
The 37-year-old Ugandan woman was found guilty of cutting her three-year-old daughter

Emily Pennink

A mother is facing up to 14 years in prison after becoming the first person to be found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The 37-year-old Ugandan woman was found guilty of cutting her three-year-old daughter despite deploying witchcraft to "shut up" her accusers.

Her partner, a 43-year-old Ghanaian, was cleared of involvement following an Old Bailey trial.

The couple, from Walthamstow, east London, had been jointly accused of carrying out FGM on their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday.

The girl was subjected to "deliberate cutting with a sharp instrument" at her mother's dirty home, the Old Bailey heard.

Medics raised the alarm after she was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital with severe bleeding.

The defendants told authorities that their daughter had been reaching for a biscuit when she fell and cut herself on the edge of a kitchen cupboard.

But the victim later confided in specially trained officers that she had been cut by a "witch".

Her older brother told police he saw his sister crying and "blood dripping on the floor".

While the parents were on bail, police searched the unemployed mother's home and found evidence of witchcraft.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC said "Two cow tongues, they were bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife also embedded in them, 40 limes were found and other fruit which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them.

"The names embedded included both police officers involved in the investigation of the case, the social worker, her own son and the then director of public prosecutions.

"These people were to 'shut up' and 'freeze their mouths'. There was a jar with a picture of a social worker in pepper found hidden behind the toilet in the bathroom. Another spell was hidden under the bed."

Giving evidence, the mother denied cutting her daughter, saying: "It's a big accusation. Someone who would cut a child's private parts, they're not human. I'm not like that."

She told jurors that she resorted to spells because "cutting your child, that's not something for any person. So, as a mother, I knew I did not do it."

The father denied having an interest in "voodoo" or "witchcraft" and claimed he was outside when his daughter was hurt.

The court heard FGM would need more than one person to do it, although police have not identified anyone else in the case.

Mrs Justice Whipple will sentence the mother at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Type II female genital mutilation, of the type inflicted on the toddler, involves the mutilation of the clitoris and removal of the labia minora, the court heard.

Immediate effects include bleeding, severe pain, shock and susceptibility to infection, with long-term impacts including gynaecological problems, reduced sexual enjoyment, higher risk pregnancies and mental health problems.

FGM carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

There have been just three other trials involving FGM - two in London and one in Bristol - which all ended in acquittals while some 298 prevention orders have been put in place to safeguard children at risk.

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