A Sudanese mother who travelled from Bahrain to the UK, was recently refused for Asylum by the Home Office, who ordered her removal from the UK. As a consequence, her 10-year old daughter, who would be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in her home country, is also at risk of deportation.
Female Genital Mutilation is a long-standing procedure, that began approximately 2,000 years ago, that consists of removing the external part of female genitalia. It is performed by a circumciser on young girls between their infancy and their years of puberty. According to the World Health Organisation, “more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually”, and “more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated”. Research found that between the years of 2004 – 2015, 87% of Sudanese women between the ages of 15-49 had undergone FGM.
FGM is primarily practiced due to social, religious and cultural pressures; families and communities often reject people who oppose to the procedure. Moreover, it is also practiced to ensure fidelity, and for girls to maintain their virginity until marriage. It is believed to reduce a female’s sexual urges, and thus allowing her to resist temptation. Another prominent reason is that it is practiced to prepare a woman for adulthood.
There are primarily 4 types of FGM:
- Clitoridectomy: the partial or complete circumcision of the clitoris
- Excision: this is the partial or complete circumcision of the clitoris and of the labia minora, and occasionally also of the labia majora
- Infibulation (the most intrusive): the cutting and repositioning of either the labia minora, or occasionally the labia majora, by stitching, and sometimes by also performing Clitoridectomy. This is done in order to create a seal that narrows the vagina.
- All other harmful non-medical procedures, such as pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the genital area.
The practising of FGM is prominent in at least 30 countries, including areas of Africa, Middle East and Asia. As a result, it is considered a global issue, and it is contrary to Human Rights. However, it is believed to have originated in Sudan and Egypt.
In the case at hand, the family division of the high court stated that it cannot intervene to stop the Home Secretary in potentially deporting the young girl. Despite the high-risk of FGM encountered particularly in countries such as Sudan, the Home Office does not consider this to be a large enough risk. They claim that although the mother of the child has suffered from the practice, this does not determine that the daughter would also be subject to the same. Should she encounter this, the Home Office further claim that the mother can protect her daughter from the above-mentioned pressures. This is despite the fact that this practice is considered a grave violation of human rights on an international level.