Hundreds of people have been convicted of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) offences in France, yet the UK has failed to bring a single successful prosecution, despite the practice being illegal for 31 years.
Hundreds of thousands of women are thought to be living with the consequence of FGM in the UK, and the numbers keep growing.
More that 5,000 new female genital mutilation (FGM) cases were recorded in England last year, it was reported this week, with more than 9,000 women and girls attending the National Health Service (NHS) due to the gruesome practice.
That works out as 14 new cases being recorded a day, or one new case every 102 minutes – less than the time it takes to watch a football match.
France has a similar FGM problem but adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards it. This tough stance saw more than 100 people jailed by 2014 in dozens of high-profile cases, The Guardian reports.
FGM was defined as a crime under French law in 1983 – three years before the UK – with the threat of 10 years in prison, or up to 20 years for cutting a girl under the age of 15.
Parents who oversee FGM are declared “accomplices” to the crime and the law extends to parents who send French-born children abroad to be cut by making it a crime no matter where it is carried out.
In 2003, it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals to take their child abroad to have FGM. In 2015, a legal requirement to report the practice was placed on doctors, nurses, midwives, and teachers.
However, still, there has not been a single prosecution.
The first trial in the UK for FGM was the 2015 case of Dr. Dhanuson Dharmasena. It transpired he had stitched up a woman – who had already undergone the practice in her native Somalia – after she gave birth and was acquitted of all wrongdoing.
Later in 2015, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said the failure to successfully prosecute a single case of FGM in the UK was a “national scandal”.
In a report, the MPs said it was “beyond belief” that no one had been convicted of FGM, 30 years after the practice was made illegal in the UK.