1st July 2018

Question:

“I’m not sure if there is anything legal I can do to protect my child as I’m concerned my partner’s family may try to carry out a religious practice on her. I am planning on going to Nigeria in the school holiday’s to visit my partner’s family so that my little girl can meet her paternal family. However, my partner has been receiving numerous phone calls from his family in Nigeria telling him the time is right and our little girl needs to follow the family tradition otherwise she will be an outcast. My partner has reassured me nothing will happen however, I am concerned if it is in relation to FGM.”

Answer:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia but can also include cutting, injuring and changing the genitalia for no medical reason. It can range from cutting parts of the genitalia or full removal and stitching. It is a practice widely used in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It is also known as female circumcision or cutting.

Those who believe in the practice believe it is necessary to conduct FGM on girls as young as a few months old to protect their daughter’s virginity and many other cultural, religious and social reasons. FGM can cause serious harm to females including: constant pain, infections, it can lead to infertility, bleeding, cysts, problems passing urine, problems during childbirth, depression and possibly death due to loss of blood from the procedure.

FGM is illegal in the UK but also in Nigeria however, it is still conducted in countries where it is illegal. A solicitor would be able to apply for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order prohibiting anyone from conducting FGM on your daughter and this Order could be mirrored in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. All women have a right to protect their body and say no to FGM as there is no medical benefit and a lot of harmful side effects. Usually the practice is conducted by individuals who are not medically trained which causes further health implications.

If you believe your child is at risk it may not be appropriate to go to Nigeria as the threat is coming from paternal family in Nigeria.

If you require advice concerning FGM please contact a solicitor for independent legal advice but also contact the police if you believe your child is at risk.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist International Family Law Solicitors who can advise on issues surrounding FGM. To speak to a Solicitor please contact us on 0191 275 2626 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk

Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.