Child cannot leave UK over mutilation fears

A father has been stopped from taking his young daughter out of the UK over her mother’s fears she may be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) in Guinea, West Africa.

A High Court judge in London imposed an FGM protection order on the unnamed six-year-old girl after concluding her father may come under pressure to have the child “mutilated”.

Ms Justice Russell was told FGM was “widespread” in Guinea and she said the order would stay in force until the girl turned 17.

She said she had barred the man from taking the youngster out of the UK because there were no direct flights to Guinea and all travel there took place via a third country.

The couple at the centre of the legal case are separated. The girl lives with her British mother, who is in her 40s, in south-east England.

Her father, who is in his 30s, was born in Conakry, Guinea. He had a “black African Muslim heritage” and had travelled to the UK more than a decade ago to study.

The NSPCC launch helpline for people affected by female genital mutilation

Video: 2016: FGM A ‘Major Problem In UK’

He met the girl’s mother, who had a “white English Christian heritage”, through an “online introduction site”.

They had married in Conakry in 2007.

FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there is no medical reason for this to be done.

It is also known as “female circumcision” or “cutting”.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is classed as child abuse.

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Video: 2016: Girl Undergoes FGM In Somalia

The NHS says: “It’s very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.”

Legislation backing FGM protection orders came into force more than two years ago.

In 2015 lawyer Zimran Samuel, who represents the child’s mother, said the orders wound “make a very real difference”.

They aim to protect potential victims rather than punish offenders, could put barriers in front of people who posed a threat and give comfort and support to vulnerable females.