This week marks the start of the Red Triangle initiative which aims to encourage people to give police information to detect and prevent female genital mutilation (FGM). This campaign will run until International Women’s Day on 8 March.
FGM is any procedure that involves the injury to, or partial or total removal of female genitalia for non-medical reasons. This practice is especially prominent in parts of the Middle East, South East Asia and over 29 countries across Africa. It is also an increasingly concerning issue in the UK, particularly prevalent in those areas where migrants from FGM affected communities live and an issue, to a greater or lesser degree, in every local authority in the UK.
FGM is a form of child abuse and violence against women and children, it is a criminal offence. It is also an offence to take a British national or permanent resident abroad for FGM or assist with this process. It is believed that there are approximately 23,000 girls under 15 at risk of FGM in England and Wales and almost 60,000 women and girls living with the consequences of FGM.
FGM Protection Orders
In July 2015 FGM protection orders came into force to safeguard girls at risk. The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice showed 97 applications and 79 orders had been made up to the end of September 2016, however there has not yet been a successful prosecution.
What is it?
- An FGM Protection Order will help to keep you or the person you believe is at risk of FGM safe, if the FGM has already taken place a protection order can ensure the woman or girl affected is not prevented from returning to the UK if she has been taken abroad for the offence to be carried out.
Who can apply?
- A person at risk of FGM or who has been subjected to FGM
- A local authority
- Any other person with permission of the Court e.g. a friend, family member, teacher, health care professional, police, charity
How to apply?
- An application is made to the Family Courts on forms available from court centres and the government website (it is advisable to speak to Citizens Advice Bureau and/or obtain legal assistance – legal aid is available to victims, potential victims and third parties applying for such orders)
- There is no Court fee
The Court process:
- The Court can be asked to consider the application immediately if it is urgent
- The applicant will be asked to go to a hearing which will be held in private, the applicant might be asked to give evidence, special measure can be put in place to shield the applicant from the respondent (the person being accused of facilitating the FGM) will be attending the hearing and the applicant is afraid of them being there.
- If the judge makes the order it will then be served on the respondent, the police and anybody else named in the order
- If the order is not followed the applicant can contact the police or apply to the Court to get the respondent arrested. The maximum penalty for breach of a FGM Protection Order is 5 year imprisonment.
What to do
If you, or somebody you know is in immediate danger of FGM you should contact the police.
If you believe somebody, or yourself, to be at risk of FGM or a victim of FGM you can anonymously contact the NSPCC.
If you have concerns that someone you know is a victim of FGM, sexual abuse or domestic abuse and requires legal protection contact The Family Law Company by calling us on 01392 421777 for further advice and assistance with applications for legal aid.
Need some advice? Get in touch today