In welcoming yesterday’s sentence, John Cameron, above, head of helplines at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), said:
This landmark case sends a very clear message that FGM will not be tolerated in this country under any circumstances.
If we want to protect girls from this dangerous and potentially life-changing practice we need to talk about FGM, encourage people to seek help and advice and report any concerns if they believe a child has been cut or is about to be.
Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre, which is run as a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, added:
The first person to be convicted and sentenced for FGM is truly a watershed moment and sends a strong message to society that this crime will not be tolerated and offenders will be held accountable.
A further two years was added to the woman’s sentence for possessing “extreme pornography”.
Speaking at the Old Bailey in London, Justice Philippa Whipple said it was not known why the woman inflicted FGM on her child, contrary to her culture, although witchcraft was a possibility.
Whipple described what the woman did as a form of child abuse.
It’s a barbaric practice and a serious crime. It’s an offence which targets women, particularly inflicted when they are young and vulnerable.
Caroline Carberry QC, prosecuting, told the court the victim had recovered well but she was likely to experience reduced sexual sensation in the future and long-term psychological damage.
The Ugandan woman, who cannot be named, and her Ghanaian partner, 43, both from Walthamstow, east London, were accused of cutting their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday. Her partner was cleared of involvement following a trial.
Police searched the woman’s home while the pair were on bail, finding evidence of witchcraft, including spells written inside frozen limes and two cow’s tongues with screws embedded in them, with the apparent aim of keeping police, social workers and lawyers quiet.
During the sentencing, the mother also admitted possessing indecent pictures of a child, publishing videos of sexual activity with a dog and a snake and possessing extreme pornographic images. Her former partner pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing of an indecent image of a child and two charges of possessing extreme images showing people having sex with a horse and snake.
Whipple sentenced him to 11 months in prison, although he has already served his time on remand. The court heard it would be up to the Home Office to decide whether to allow him to continue living in Britain.
The crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. There have been three other trials involving FGM, all of which ended in acquittals.
Research by City University estimated 137,000 women and girls are living with FGM in England and Wales.