This case concerns ‘X’, a young girl, born in 2016 to ‘M’, her English mother and ‘F’, her Egyptian father, who currently resides in Egypt. After a Health Visitor (KA) reported M’s concerns about X being at risk of Female Genital Mutilation should she go to Egypt, the Local Authority issued Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order proceedings, pursuant of s2 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, to be held until X turns 16.
M converted to Islam in her early 20s, married F in 2014 and X was born in 2016 in the UK. F has been unable to join M and X in the UK because of issues relating to him acquiring a VISA. The court is unsure why this may be the case. They do not know if M converted to Islam in order to marry F and there is uncertainty regarding the legality of the marriage – however, that is not what the court has been required to answer. The matter at hand is to ensure the safety of X pertaining to the risk of FGM were she to travel to Egypt before she turns 16.
During the proceedings, the Applicant was the Local Authority, who was in direct opposition to both the First Respondent, M, and the Second Respondent, F, who do not wish there to be a FGMPO placed, preventing X from traveling to visit F and the paternal family in Egypt. The court heard evidence from the paternal grandfather (PGF) and grandmother (PGM), both Respondents, KA and from Ms Mary Oni, a FGM specialist social worker who attended regular visits to M and X throughout the proceedings.
M held that F believed both his sisters had FGM, though the PGF provided medical evidence that they had been examined and confirmed that to be false – this Ms Justice Russell, of the High Court, disputed as not credible proof – whilst it remains true that the PGM has undergone FGM. In spite of this, M stated that F would not allow X to have FGM. This the court found to be unsubstantiated since F gave no indication that he disapproved of the practice, except when it proves fatal. M told KA in November 2016 that F had once stated that FGM should be made legal and conducted in hospital. F denies that he said this and both himself and the PGF state that the practice is outdated in Egypt. This directly contradicts the evidence supplied by expert in Egyptian Law and FGM, Ms Abulkomsan, which reports that 92% of infants and girls in Egypt are subjected to FGM, with 75% of those taking place between the ages of 9 and 12. The PGM confirmed that when she had been subject to FGM, it was ‘Haram’ (forbidden by Allah) to not have FGM.
Whilst the court did have concerns for the parent’s right to a family life, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Ms Justice Russell ruled to grant the FGMPO to remain in place until X is 16, to prevent any risk to her safety or well-being. X’s passport is held by the court, whilst M has had hers returned, under the assertion that she cannot travel outside the jurisdiction with X until 2032. F will be free to visit the pair in the UK, once he has obtained a VISA.
Ravi Kaur Mahey, Childcare Director at Duncan Lewis, was instructed by the First Respondent, M, in this case. Ravi has specialist experience in child abduction cases and those concerning FGM. She has held advocacy for children and adults in multiple cases in the County and High Court and she has been a member of the Law Society Children Panel since 2011.