Mother becomes first person found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation in UK
The mother of a three-year-old girl has become the first to be found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK, after a failed bid to “shut up” her accusers with witchcraft.
The Ugandan woman, 37, and her Ghanaian partner, 43, both from Walthamstow, east London, were accused of cutting their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday.
Police found bizarre spells inside 40 frozen limes and two ox tongues with screws embedded in them aimed at silencing police, social workers, officers and lawyers in the case.
The mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, wept in the dock as she was found guilty of FGM.
Her partner was cleared of involvement after the Old Bailey jury deliberated for less than a day.
Mrs Justice Whipple warned of a “lengthy” jail term as she remanded the woman into custody to be sentenced on March 8.
FGM carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
The law was introduced in 1985 and has since been amended to include assisting and taking children abroad to be cut.
There have been just three other trials involving FGM – two in London and one in Bristol – which all ended in acquittals while some 298 prevention orders have been put in place to safeguard children at risk.
The girl was subjected to FGM by “deliberate cutting with a sharp instrument” at her mother’s dirty home, the Old Bailey heard.
Medics raised the alarm after she was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital with severe bleeding.
The defendants told authorities that their daughter had been reaching for a biscuit when she fell and cut herself on the edge of a kitchen cupboard.
But the victim later confided in specially trained officers that she had been cut by a “witch”.
Her older brother told police he saw his sister crying and “blood dripping on the floor”.
While the parents were on bail, police searched the unemployed mother’s home and found evidence of witchcraft.
Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC had said “Two cow tongues, they were bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife also embedded in them, 40 limes were found and other fruit which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them.
“The names embedded included both police officers involved in the investigation of the case, the social worker, her own son and the then director of public prosecutions.
“These people were to ‘shut up’ and ‘freeze their mouths’. There was a jar with a picture of a social worker in pepper found hidden behind the toilet in the bathroom. Another spell was hidden under the bed.”
Giving evidence, the mother denied cutting her daughter, saying: “It’s a big accusation. Someone who would cut a child’s private parts, they’re not human. I’m not like that.”
She told jurors that she resorted to spells because “cutting your child, that’s not something for any person. So, as a mother, I knew I did not do it.”
The father denied having an interest in “voodoo” or “witchcraft” and claimed he was outside when his daughter was hurt.
The court heard FGM would need more than one person to do it, although police have not identified anyone else in the case.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Baker, of the Met’s child abuse and sexual offences command, said: “We cannot lose sight that this case is about a very young girl who was the victim of an illegal, horrific and life-changing act at the hands of her mother.
“I would like to acknowledge her bravery since her ordeal and I’m pleased to say she has made a very good recovery and been placed with another family.”
He said none of his officers had suffered any ill effects that could be explained by spells.
The Met’s FGM lead, Inspector Allen Davis, said the case should serve as a deterrent but maintained his focus on prevention.
On why so few cases have come to court, he said victims of “honour based abuse” just wanted to feel safe.
“People do not necessarily want to see their mums go to prison.
“It’s a real challenge for people to stand up and talk about what’s happening in communities when it might mean they face ostracisation.”
“It is the physical damage and emotional damage as well. It can be very, very damaging. The person who should be protecting them in the first place has usually arranged and facilitated it. How can you rebuild that link to the person that should be protecting you?”
Type II female genital mutilation, of the type inflicted on the toddler, involves the mutilation of the clitoris and removal of the labia minora, the court heard.
Immediate effects include bleeding, severe pain, shock and susceptibility to infection, with long-term impacts including gynaecological problems, reduced sexual enjoyment, higher risk pregnancies and mental health problems.
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture – 40 frozen limes, where spells were stored aimed at silencing police, social workers officers and lawyers – (c) Metropolitan Police / PA Wire.