At AFG LAW our domestic abuse solicitors are able to provide quick, expert advice when it is needed most. Our family department is one of the largest in the Greater Manchester area; our solicitors have been involved in cases where Female Genital Mutilation has been an issue and Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders have been made.
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
Female Genital Mutilation is a harmful practice which includes all procedures undertaken to totally or partially remove external female genitalia or cause other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Female Genital Mutilation is illegal in the UK; this includes mutilating the whole or part of a female’s genitalia, assisting a female to mutilate her own genitalia or assisting the practice to be carried out overseas. The maximum sentence a criminal court can give someone guilty of an offence of FGM is 14 years or a fine or both.
What should I do if I am worried that I or someone else is at risk of FGM?
If you are worried that you or someone you care about is at risk of FGM you should contact the police; if you are worried someone has been taken abroad for the purposes of FGM you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There are charities for children to contact if they are worried they might be at risk of FGM including NSPCC/Childline and Barnardos, there are also specialist local charities in Manchester and Liverpool such as AFRUCA, NESTAC and Savera that can offer advice and support.
How can a solicitor help me protect myself or help me protect someone else?
People wanting advice about domestic abuse and harmful practices such as FGM are always prioritised at AFG LAW as our solicitors understand the need for an urgent response. Our solicitors will listen to you and provide you with advice tailored to your circumstances. We can assist you to make an application for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order to protect yourself, or another person, at risk of FGM or if FGM has been committed. You can apply for a FGMPO if you are the person needing protection or for another person with permission of the court. Relevant third parties, such as local authorities, can also apply for orders to protect children.
What does a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order do?
An FGM Protection Order can protect you or someone you care about who is at risk of FGM or if FGM has already happened. FGMPO’s can cover different things and it can be tailored to exactly the protection you need, examples of the conditions might be being prevented from:
- Arranging, attempting to arrange, or otherwise instructing or encouraging any other person to subject the person to be protected to any procedure involving female genital mutilation and the excision, infibulation or mutilation of the whole or any part of the person’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris;
- Instructing or otherwise encouraging the person to be protected to undergo any procedure involving female genital mutilation and the excision, infibulation or mutilation of the whole or any part of the person’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris;
- Facilitating, allowing or otherwise permitting the person to be protected to undergo any procedure involving female genital mutilation and the excision, infibulation or mutilation of the whole or any part of the child’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris;
- Using or threatening violence against the person to be protected or otherwise instructing or encouraging any other person to do so;
- Intimidating, harassing or pestering the person to be protected or otherwise instructing or encouraging any other person to do so;
- Upon the return to the country of the person to be protected, being prevented from removing, seeking to remove or instructing or encouraging any other person to remove the child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
What does the court look at when it makes a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order?
When a court is asked to exercise its powers to make a FGM protection order the Judge must have regard to all the circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of the girl to be protected.
Do I have to tell the people I am trying to protect myself from that I am applying for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order?
The court can be asked to make an order without telling the people you are seeking protection from that you have made an application. This is called ‘without notice’ and means that the protection can be put in place before telling the relevant people. If you attend court for a ‘without notice’ hearing it will only be you and your lawyer in attendance but, if the court makes a ‘without notice’ order, you will also be given a date for a further hearing to allow the people you want protection from to attend. The court does not allow final orders to be made without the people the order will affect knowing about the court proceedings.
Do I have to go to court to get a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order?
Yes, only a Judge can make a female genital mutilation protection order but if you are worried about attending court there are different types of support that can be put in place. We have developed a guide as attending court when there has been domestic abuse can be worrying for a lot of people. Our guide contains more detail but, as an example, practical steps such as different waiting rooms, the use of screens in court or video link can all be requested. Our solicitors will always try and support you too.
What if a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order is made but then it is ignored?
A breach of a FGMPO can be dealt with by the criminal courts or the family court. You can report breaches to the police who can arrest the people who have breached the order. A decision will then be made on whether there is sufficient evidence to charge them with the offence and then they will have to appear before the criminal courts. The maximum penalty for breaching a FGMPO is 5 years imprisonment. It is also possible to return the proceedings to the Family Court who made the order but this won’t provide immediate protection in the same way the police can assist and the powers the Family Court have are different to the powers the criminal courts have.
Our family team can help you with a full range of legal services.