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Reported Case

Re C (Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage: Fact Finding) [2019] EWHC 3449 (Fam) (16 June 2020)

Date: 16/06/2020
Duncan Lewis, Reported Case Solicitors, Re C (Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage: Fact Finding) [2019] EWHC 3449 (Fam)

The applicant mother had many siblings including our client, F. The family was of Somalian descent. As a result of the civil war in Somalia, the parents left Somalia and travelled with F and two of his brothers to England in April 2002, leaving the applicant mother and her two sisters in the care of their maternal grandmother, with whom they lived in a refugee camp on the Somali/Kenyan border.

The three sisters re-joined their parents in England in 2003. It is confirmed that both of the mother’s sisters were subject to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) whilst living with their maternal grandmother. One of the key issues of the fact-finding hearing was whether the mother was subjected to FGM at the same time as her sisters as a minor or later in 2013 when she was much older whilst visiting her grandparents in Kenya.

The applicant mother married in 2015. How they met was also a matter of dispute, with the mother asserting it had been a forced marriage arranged by her parents. Following the wedding the mother and her husband moved in with her in-laws. The applicant mother became pregnant with K in 2016. It was during her pregnancy with K that the mother’s FGM was noted for the first time in her medical records. Whilst in labour with K, concerns were raised in relation to the extended family’s behaviour, who appeared controlling, and the mother’s experience of FGM. This prompted the midwives to make a referral to the Local Authority in which the mother was residing. K was placed on the Child Protection Register.


Summary

This case commenced in August 2018 when the mother alleged she had been the victim of FGM at age 17, after her own mother and father arranged for her to undergo FGM in 2013. The mother also alleged that she had been the victim of forced marriage. These allegations raised concerns in respect of J (the mother’s sister), aged 11 years, who lived with the maternal grandmother. A Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO) and Forced Marriage Protection Order were granted in August 2018 in respect of J.

In September 2018 the mother issued an application to protect her daughter (K) from FGM and an application to prevent K’s removal from the jurisdiction in order to subject her to FGM. She also sought orders protecting herself from further forced marriage and FGM. The respondents to this application were K’s father, his mother, K’s paternal grandmother and the maternal grandparents. K was living with her father and paternal grandmother at the time the applications were issued. These applications were granted on 12 September 2018.

Our client, F, was the younger brother of the applicant mother and was joined as an intervenor after the mother alleged he sexually assaulted her in childhood, and physically assaulted K in late 2017. A 13 day fact-finding hearing was directed as all of the allegations made by the mother were not accepted. The mother had a significant learning disability and her capacity to conduct litigation fluctuated during the course of the proceedings. At the time of the fact finding hearing she was deemed to have capacity but was assisted by an intermediary.


Judgment

In respect of the finding sought that F sexually assaulted the applicant mother during her childhood, Mrs Justice Knowles was not satisfied that the mother discharged the burden of proof and did not make a finding of F’s alleged sexual abuse.

Mrs Justice Knowles was also unable to make the finding sought that F slapped K, as a result of the multiple incomplete, disordered and conflicting accounts both in documentary and oral evidence.

The case was a successful result for our client, F, who was joined very late into the proceedings as an intervenor.


Representation

The intervenor was represented by child care director Ravi Kaur Mahey who was assisted by solicitor Stavri Petrou of the Harrow office. Counsel Ruth Henke QC of 30 Park Place Chambers and Bianca Jackson of Coram Chambers were instructed.




 

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