The mother of a three-year-old girl has become the first person 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 defendants, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denied FGM and an alternative charge of failing to protect a girl from risk of genital mutilation.
The mother wept in the dock as she was found guilty of FGM and her partner was cleared of all charges after the Old Bailey jury deliberated for less than a day.
John Cameron, NSPCC Head of Childline, said: “FGM has been illegal in the UK for more than 30 years and today’s first successful prosecution for carrying out this horrific practice is a landmark victory for all FGM survivors.
“In 2017/18 the NSPCC Helpline was contacted 313 times by people worried about girls who may have suffered, or are at risk of, FGM. It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family. But we need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.
“We can only hope that the outcome of this case will now give others the strength and the courage to speak out about this violent form of child abuse which has absolutely no place in society.”
According to children’s charity Barnardo’s, there is a newly-recorded case of FGM in England every two hours. The latest figures released by NHS Digital say there were 6,195 women and girls treated in the past financial year, and of those 4,495 were newly-recorded cases. Of the 6,195 women and girls, 85 cases of FGM took place in the UK.
This is thought to be just the third prosecution brought under FGM legislation, despite estimates that 137,000 women in England and Wales have undergone the brutal procedure, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985
FGM involves the removal of the clitoris, inner-and-outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of the two sides of the vulva leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstruate.
It is usually performed using a razor blade and most commonly on girls from birth up until the age of 10, and typically without anaesthetic.
Often, it leaves the victim with severe mental and physical side effects, including pain, bleeding, complications during child birth, infertility and, in the worst cases, death.