A Court has found real concern for a child’s safety after her mother took her and her brother abroad without permission. A Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order was made as well as an Order for ward ship.
The case in detail
The mother, who took the children without their fathers’ permission to Sudan, returned to the UK at the end of August without the children and was arrested for child abduction.
It was alleged that if the girl, F, remained in the Sudan she would be subject to female genital mutilation (FGM) and the local authority made an application to the Family Court under the Inherent Jurisdiction and under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
At a previous hearing of the matter, the mother accepted that she had retained the children unlawfully and contrary to the wishes of the father. The Court found that there were real grounds for concern to think that the girl, F, would be subject to FGM and it therefore made the Order to protect her.
The mother was directed to take all reasonable steps to arrange for the children to return to this jurisdiction, including for the children to be presented as soon as possible to the British Embassy in Khartoum. However, the mother failed to comply with the Order, stating that it was, in fact, F’s wishes to remain in the Sudan, and therefore the matter was brought back to the Court.
There was a Court hearing on 10 September 2015, and the local authority informed the Court of its intention to apply for committal proceedings. However, at that hearing, the mother maintained that she now accepted the terms of the Order and would comply with it, and any other directions that the Court made.
The Court directed a number of provisions and undertakings that would facilitate the children’s return to the United Kingdom. Further, the Court indicated that the Court would take a “lenient” view of the committal proceedings against the mother provided that she complied with the terms of the Order. The children were returned to the United Kingdom on 2 October 2015.
Continuing the fight against FGM
The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under the civil law.
Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, a breach could be dealt with in the family court as a contempt of court, carrying a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.
It is illegal for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.