Female genital mutation compromises all procedures involving partial or total removal, of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genitalia organs for non-medical reasons. There are no health benefits of the procedures and instead it harms girls and women in many ways. It interferes with the natural function of girls` and women's bodies. The practice can cause severe pain and can cause long term difficulties including difficulties in childbirth also causing dangers to the child. Female gentile mutation is known in many countries as “female genital cutting”, “circumcision” or “initiation”. The age the procedure is undertaken varies from country to community. The procedure could take place in the UK or overseas. The procedure could be carried out when a girl is a new born, during the childhood or even in her adolescent years, just before a marriage or even during the first pregnancy. Usually the age group at the highest risk are those between the ages of 5 and 8. The procedure is illegal in the UK.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 states a person is guilty of the act if they mutilate the whole or any part of the girls or women`s genitals , including assisting a girl to mutilate her won gentile or assisting a non UK person to mutilate overseas a girl's gentile.
A person who within criminal proceedings if convicted of an offence under sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Act could face potentially a maximum of 14 years imprisonment – person who commits the acts. A person who within criminal proceedings if convicted of an offence under section 3 A of the Act could face potentially a maximum of 7 years imprisonment – person who assists a person to commit the act. A person who within criminal proceedings if convicted of an offence under sections 1, 2 and 4 of Act could face potentially a maximum of a fine.
Schedule 5A(2)(a) and schedule 2 , Part 1 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 provides for the making of a FGM protection order. The government introduced lifelong anonymity for victims of Female Genital mutilation to encourage more victims of this hidden crime to come forward.
A Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order can help if a person is at risk of FGM or have already had FGM committed to them. The Court can make a FGM Protection Order to:
Each order will contain binding conditions and directions tailored to your needs and what is required to protect you and your individual circumstances. The court can make an order in an emergency so that this protection is in place straightaway. An application for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order can be made at the same time as a police investigation or other criminal proceedings.
When deciding whether an order should be made the court must take into consideration the need to secure the health and safety and wellbeing of the potential or actual victim. Examples of the content of a FGMPO granted by the court may include the surrender of passports or any other travel documents of the person being protected, Prohibit specified persons from entering into any arrangements in the UK or overseas for FGM to be performed on the person to be protected .The Order can also be made against people who are not named in the application for the FGMPO. This recognises the complexity of the issues and the number of people who could be involved.
An application for a Female Genital Mutilation Order can be made within the Family Court in England and Wales. The Order can be applied for by:
The court can make an order of its own violation without an application within proceedings if required.
A Female Genital Mutilation Order can relate to the conduct of a person: who is in or outside of England and Wales and who is outside England and Wales as well as (or instead of) conduct of the person within England and Wales.
The court can offer separate waiting rooms, separate court entrances and exits, parking on court premises and some courts may offer witness protection facilities. The court can also offer screens to ensure you cannot see the respondents in court. You may be able to give your evidence by video, through a live TV or video link outside the courtroom. The court can also provide interpreters.
Application for a Female Genital Mutilation Order can be made by the applicant themselves or then can instruct a solicitor to assist them. A Form FGM001 has to be completed and filed with the Court.
If you need the courts permission to keep your address confidential then you must complete a C8 Application. A sworn statement in support of the application must also be filed alongside the application. This statement needs to outline the reasons for the application and what orders are being sought. There is no application fee.
The application can be heard on notice or without notice to the respondents. The application can be heard urgently if a without notice order is made by the judge, the matter will be listed for a further hearing where the respondents will be able to attend to provide their positon in relation to the application.
Once the court have processed the forms they will then provide a notice of hearing, namely a notice of proceedings form FGM002. If the Hearing is on notice then the application forms, sworn statement and notice of hearing must be served on the respondents and other persons. The court can also serve the documents if a form D89 – a request for personal service by court bailiff is completed. After the documents have been served a form FL415 will need to be completed and filed with the court.
Legal aid is available for applications for a Forced Marriage Protection Order and committal proceedings for Breach of a Forced Marriage Protection order, however it is means and merits tested as with Non molestation Order Proceedings.
Funding is available for both Applicants and Respondents.
What happens at the Hearing?
The application for a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Order will be heard in private. The court may make interim orders whilst further information is awaited if this is required and then a further hearing will be listed. The Court will make an order for a specified period and they may list the matter for a further hearing once the period of time has lapsed or if and when a further application is made.
Breach of the order can be dealt with by the Family or the Criminal Courts. The breach of an order is also a criminal offence for which has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. There is not a need for a power of arrest, if a person is found to in breach of a FGMPO they can be automatically arrested.
If the police decide not to prosecute, an application can be made to the family court for an arrest warrant. Under paragraph 7(1) of Part 1 of schedule 2 to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 you can make an application to the Family Court for the matter to be dealt with as contempt of court. Where a person is in breach and contempt of court via the family courts, they can send them to prison for 2 years.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors can advise you in relation to this area of Law. Duncan Lewis Solicitors have specialist solicitors who represent parents, family members and children within this area of law. Our solicitors, trainees and caseworkers also speak a range of languages to assist clients where required with any language barriers.
Duncan Lewis is recommended by The Legal 500 legal directory for its specialism in all aspects of family and children law nationwide and cross-border. The Legal 500 applauds our family and child care solicitors to be a team of lawyers that are ‘friendly professionals who take their time to understand your case’. Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children Panel.
For expert legal advice on all family and childcare matters, contact Duncan Lewis Solicitors on 033 3772 0409.