A London court on Thursday convicted a woman for having helped in the genital mutilation of a three-year-old girl during a trip to Kenya.
Amina Noor, 39, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of assisting a non-UK person to carry out the procedure overseas 17 years ago.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the UK and many other nations. It is also a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent residents to perform or help to perform it overseas.
It is the first time someone has been convicted of such offences abroad under the FGM Act of 2003. The offences carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.
“This kind of case will hopefully encourage potential victims and survivors of FGM to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they are supported, believed and also are able to speak their truth about what’s actually happened to them,” prosecutor Patricia Strobino said.
The only other successful prosecution was in 2019 when a Ugandan woman from Walthamstow, east London, was jailed for 11 years for cutting a three-year-old girl.
“Part of the challenge of this type of offence is the fact that these types of offences occur in secrecy,” Strobino said.
“Within specific communities within the UK, although these offences and practices are prevalent, it’s often very difficult to get individuals to come forward to explain the circumstances of what’s happened to them because there was a fear that they may be excluded or pushed away or shunned, isolated from their community.”
– Risky procedure –
Noor, from Harrow in northwest London, was born in Somalia and came to the UK aged 16 where she was given British citizenship.
During the trial, she denied the charge against her.
But prosecutor Deanna Heer had told a jury that Noor had handed over the girl for so-called female circumcision during the visit 17 years ago.
Noor had told the court she had not expected the girl to be subjected to the procedure.
But Heer said: “Not only was the procedure carried out upon (the girl)… but the defendant had been discussing precisely the kind of FGM before she took (her) to that clinic.”
The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is now aged 21 and a British citizen.
The practice is common in some African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries and involves the partial or total removal of a young girl’s clitoris and labia.
The risky procedure is often carried out under unsterile conditions and can lead to severe complications.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice.
Justice Bryan granted Noor conditional bail ahead of her sentencing at the same court on December 20.