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Court’s strict approach to FGM imposing 16 year travel ban (13 April 2018)

Date: 13/04/2018
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Court’s strict approach to FGM imposing 16 year travel ban

A recent High Court case imposed a 16 year travel ban on ‘X’, due to concerns that X is at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The girl was born in 2016 to a white English mother and an Egyptian father. The father who currently resides in Egypt has been unable to join the mother and X in the UK because of issues with acquiring a visa.

X’s mother expressed concern that her daughter may be at risk of FGM to a health visitor who made a referral to the Local Authority (LA).

The LA issued proceedings and the matter was heard in the High Court before Ms Justice Russell who made an FGM protection order (FGMPO) on 15 November 2017, prohibiting X’s parents from ‘removing, seeking to remove, or instructing or encouraging any other person to remove the child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales’ until 22 August 2032.

The case was unique as the Judge made the order knowing that there was a chance the father would not see his child as he remained ineligible to apply for a visa.

FGM is where the female genitals are deliberately cut without any medical reason. The procedure is carried out for cultural, religious and social reasons in the mistaken belief that it will benefit the girl, e.g. to prepare for marriage or preserve virginity.

In addition to being extremely painful, FGM can cause life-long health problems. The practice is a criminal offence under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 and it is illegal to take a girl out of the UK to have this done.

FGMPOs contain legally binding conditions to protect the person at risk. These came into force on 17 July 2015 and apply to England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Conditions include travel bans prohibiting the girl being taken abroad, prohibiting bringing a “cutter” to the UK to commit FGM and prohibiting the obtaining of a passport or other travel documents for the child.

This sends a clear message worldwide that courts will take extreme protective measures to stop the practice of FGM; in this case the court has taken a robust approach by imposing a travel ban on X until she turns 16.

The matter will soon be heard in the Court of Appeal as the parents are challenging the ruling.

Ravi Kaur Mahey, Child Care Director at Duncan Lewis was the lead solicitor in this case. Ravi has specialist experience in child abduction, FGM and public law cases. She has held advocacy for children and adults in the County and High Court and she has been a member of The Law Society Children Panel since 2011.

For expert child care advice, contact Ravi on 020 3114 1102 or email her at ravim@duncanlewis.com.

Duncan Lewis Child Care Department

Duncan Lewis Family & Child Care team continues to be recognised by Legal 500 for our large team which ‘covers a broad range of family cases and excels in children’s cases’. The 2017 edition applauded Duncan Lewis for its expertise in representing vulnerable clients under legal aid and we have been recognised for our niche experience in Islamic divorce.

The team has extensive expertise representing vulnerable clients under legal aid, supporting families in care proceedings. Guardians appoint us to represent children in culturally complex care cases given our diverse ethnic workforce and experience dealing with vulnerable clients in physical and emotional abuse, drug or alcohol misuse, neglect, factitious illness, rare illness and non-accidental injury matters.

For expert advice on any child care matter, please call 0333 772 0409.

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