West Midlands Police Do Not See ‘Benefit’ In FGM Prosecutions

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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an utterly barbaric practice that has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Despite its legal status, there were 5700 recorded cases of FGM between 2015 and 2016 alone. As of today there is yet to be a single prosecution for this debilitating crime.

For those unfamiliar with this life-changing ‘procedure’.

From End FGM:

Female genital mutilation is classified into four types:

  • Type I: Also known as clitoridectomy, this type consists of partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or its prepuce.
  • Type II: Also known as excision, the clitoris and labia minora are partially or totally removed, with or without excision of the labia majora.
  • Type III: The most severe form, it is also known as infibulation or pharaonic type. The procedure consists of narrowing the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or labia majora, with or without removal of the clitoris. The appositioning of the wound edges consists of stitching or holding the cut areas together for a certain period of time (for example, girls’ legs are bound together), to create the covering seal. A small opening is left for urine and menstrual blood to escape. An infibulation must be opened either through penetrative sexual intercourse or surgery.
  • Type IV: This type consists of all other procedures to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Recent comments by the West Midlands Police department on Twitter have fell short of demonstrating a handle on this incredibly serious problem:image

Although FGM isn’t exclusively an Islamic issue (it’s practiced by some mainly African Christians too), it does receive significant endorsement by way of the Islamic religion.

The four Sunni (majority denomination in the UK) schools of jurisprudence consider FGM to be either ‘obligatory’, ‘honourable’ or ‘preferred’:

The historical religious view regarding the partial cutting of the clitoris, also known as Type One FGM, varies with the school of Islamic jurisprudence fiqh:[35]

The Shafi’i school considers female circumcision to be wajib (obligatory).[36]

The Hanbali school considers female circumcision to be makrumah (honorable) and strongly encouraged, to obligatory.[37]

The Maliki school considers female circumcision to be sunnah (optional) and preferred.[37]

The Hanafi school considers female circumcision to be sunnah (preferred).[37]

The differences in jurist opinions focuses around several hadith from the Sunni collections:

Hadith Sunan Abu Dawood favoring FGM

One hadith from the Sunan Abu Dawood collection states:[38][39][40]

A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.

— Sunan Abu Dawood, 41:5251

When challenged on the lack of convictions by one Twitter user, West Midlands Police responded as below:

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Here we have it. In 2017, a UK police force does not see the ‘benefit’ in prosecuting parents who mutilate the genitals of their child daughters.

After some considerable push back online, West Midlands Police appeared to contradict their earlier statement:

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My question would be ‘when’? When are they going to arrest those guilty of, or complicit in this crime? A few thousand more young girls irrevocably damaged perhaps?

A petition has been set up at change.org to request that the police department carry out their obligations to the law.

I discussed the issue of FGM on the latest edition of the Taking The Myth podcast:

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

5 comments

  • Can anyone think of circumstances where it would have zero impact on the child and would therefore empower West Midlands police with the clear conscience to proceed with a prosecution?

    The only scenario I can think of would be if one of the parents was guilty of some other crime that was so heinous that incarceration would have a net positive effect.

    But we shouldn’t have to do this theorising- the law has to be upheld and we aren’t going to eradicate this barbaric practice until patents see that their actions have consequences.

    You forgot to mention that this has nothing whatsoever to do with islam!

  • Even their half-hearted final response seems to imply that they will only prosecute those people who actually do the cutting. As this very rarely occurs in this country, more often when on ‘holiday’ back in the country they originate from, a prosecution is seemingly unlikely if my inference is correct.

  • Whether or not prosecuting parents for FGM benefits THEIR children, it might help to deter other parents from mutilating other children. Isn’t that one of the purposes of prosecutions?

  • Even if the prosecutions do not result in a spell in prison, the message that this is against the law would be clearly iterated. Doing nothing at all is allowing fear to dictate the law.

  • If the government actually wanted to stop FGM, they could. They simply lack the will to do the things that would make FGM stop. For example, mandatory health exams for all students whether or not in faith schools. Any child that has been cut is immediately taken away from parents forever (along with any other children of the parents) and placed with non-muslim families. Make it a strict liability crime; no appeal, jail both parents until all children are over 18. Then add a provision revoking citizenship and/or immigration status so deportation was mandatory at end of jail term. FGM would stop within a year or two.

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