Editor’s Note: February 6 is International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day aimed at eradicating the practice.
In a landmark ruling, a mother-of-three has become the first person in Britain to be found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that has been outlawed in the country for more than three decades.
Under British law, anyone found guilty of performing FGM can be imprisoned for up to 14 years. It has been illegal in Britain since 1985 under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act, later amended in the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
The UK’s Serious Crime Act defines FGM as involving “procedures that include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
Although more than 100,000 victims of FGM are believed to be living in Britain, only three other cases of FGM — two in London and one in Bristol — have been brought to trial, all of which ended in acquittal. Analysts say that the lack of convictions is partly due to a failure by doctors and police to report FGM for fear of being branded racist.