A Somali heritage Uber driver allowed his seven-year-old daughter to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) because he said it stops “women feeling sexy all the time”, a court has heard.
The case represents one of the first times a prosecution for the crime – common in some migrant and Muslim cultures – has been brought to court in the UK, despite being illegal here since 1985 and hundreds of successful prosecutions in France.
“The case concerns… a practice that is illegal in this country and is becoming illegal in countries around the world,” Anna Vigars QC, prosecuting, told the court as the case began Monday.
“But, there are communities in Africa and the Middle East where it is common,” she added, according to The Guardian.
The prosecution alleges that the Somali father, who speaks “broken” English, admitted allowing his daughter to be cut to charity worker and anti-FGM campaigner Sami Ullah after picking him up in his Uber in March 2016.
Mr. Ullah asked the driver if he knew what the practice was using the Somali word, “sunna”. The driver is alleged to have made the cross sign with his finger and replied: “You mean cut?”
He then said he had allowed his own daughter to be mutilated, arguing that many people in his culture embraced it, and claiming that a smaller version of the practice was not wrong.
France Prosecutes Hundreds for FGM, Zero in the UK https://t.co/SOSkApeMgv
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 6, 2017
After the journey, the charity worker called the police, and officers then called on the driver’s family and it was discovered a girl aged seven had had her clitoris mutilated after an inspection, the Bristol Post reports.
Mr. Ullah added: “He [the defendant] told me he had got it done in an area of Bristol. I asked him if he knew it was illegal, he replied it was culture and tradition, some people do it, some people don’t.
“He told me that he had got it done to his daughter and there were [places] where you could get it done. He said, around the facility of the health centre.
“He asked do you know why we do it and before giving me the chance to reply, he said: ‘So women don’t feel sexy all the time.’”
Last year, more than 5,000 new cases of FGM were recorded in the UK, and around 9,000 women sought National Health Service (NHS) help because of the practice.
The figure means there are around 14 new cases every day, and a third of the women and girls seeking help were born in Somalia, according to the NHS numbers.
With prosecutions failing to materialise, in 2003, it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals to take their child abroad to have FGM, and in 2015, a legal requirement to report the practice was placed on doctors, nurses, midwives, and teachers.