A female has been convicted of delivering a three-year-old girl from Britain for the purpose of female genital mutilation (FGM) while on a trip to Kenya, marking the first instance of such a conviction.
Following a case at the Old Bailey, Amina Noor, aged 39, was found guilty of aiding someone in carrying out the procedure in 2006. This offense has a maximum punishment of 14 years and is the initial case of aiding in such harm under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
In 2019, a woman from Uganda residing in Walthamstow, east London, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for performing female genital mutilation on a three-year-old girl. This is the only other known case of successful prosecution under this act.
Activists stated that the decision demonstrated the effectiveness of implementing compulsory reporting of possible cases of female genital mutilation in 2015.
Patricia Strobino, the lead prosecutor, praised the verdict in Noor’s case, stating that she hopes it will empower other victims and survivors of FGM to come forward with confidence, knowing that they will be supported and believed.
This will also communicate a strong message to potential defendants or individuals who wish to continue this practice, that they will face legal action regardless of whether they engage in it within the UK or abroad.
Strobino stated that the difficulty with this type of crime is that it often takes place in secret. In certain communities in the UK, even though these offenses and customs are widespread, it can be tough to persuade people to speak up about what happened to them. This is due to fears of being rejected, ostracized, or isolated from their community.
Deanna Heer KC, the prosecutor, stated that Noor had accompanied the girl to Kenya in 2006. While there, Noor took her to a private residence where she was subjected to FGM.
The offense was not discovered until several years had passed, at which point the girl was 16 years old and disclosed the information to her English teacher at school.
The accused stated that she believed the procedure was only an injection and that the girl was content and able to engage in physical activity afterwards. However, upon examination in 2019, it was discovered that the girl’s clitoris had been surgically removed.
Heer stated that Noor seemed “surprised and distressed” and expressed that the outcome was not what she had anticipated. In a preliminary report, Noor recounted accompanying another woman to a “clinic” where the girl was taken into a room for a procedure.
According to the report, the accused stated that she was asked to enter but declined due to feeling “afraid and concerned”. Later, the girl was observed to be withdrawn and cried throughout the night while also expressing discomfort.
During a subsequent police interrogation, Noor refuted any claims that she had received threats prior to the girl undergoing FGM.
Heer stated that the woman was questioned about her feelings upon arriving at the clinic, or possibly even beforehand, regarding whether she wanted the procedure to take place. The woman responded with, “Yeah I considered it, but ultimately went through with it.”
The jury was informed that the accused was originally from Somalia but relocated to Kenya at the age of eight due to the civil war in Somalia. She arrived in the UK at 16 years old and was eventually given British citizenship.
The accused referred to their actions towards the girl as “Sunnah”, which translates to “tradition” or “way” in Arabic. They claimed it was a cultural practice that had been ongoing for several years.
During her trial, Noor, a resident of Harrow in north-west London, testified that she was coerced into participating by the threat of being ostracized and cursed by her community. She expressed how this threat caused her great distress and felt powerless to do anything about it.
The purported victim, who is currently 21 years old, cannot be named due to legal restrictions.
Nimco Ali, a survivor of female genital mutilation and founder of the Five Foundation, a worldwide alliance dedicated to stopping the practice of cutting girls, expressed approval of the decision.
She expressed amazement that the requirement for teachers and healthcare professionals to report incidents, which they have advocated for, is finally showing results. It is evident that a girl was not properly supported and the system failed her, but today she received some form of justice thanks to the policies that are now in effect.
She stated, “We must work collaboratively to address the underlying causes of FGM in the UK and globally.”
A study conducted in 2014 revealed that approximately 137,000 females in England and Wales have been impacted by FGM. Ali emphasized the urgent need to update this estimate.