Compensation for Victims of Female Genital Mutilation FGM

 

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”), colloquially referred to as “cutting”, but also as female circumcision, is endemic across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This remains so, despite legislation in many African countries to outlaw such abhorrent practices.  It is said that lack of enforcement and prosecution in these African countries explains why the FGM continues to be practised.

FGM is carried out for cultural reasons, to ensure virginity before marriage. It may involve the removal of all or part of the clitoris, the labia and narrowing the vagina opening.  The procedure is often carried out by women and without the girl being anaesthetised. It is painful, both at the time of surgery and after, with the girl being left with a small opening, making urination and sexual intercourse painful.   Although treatment is available to address some FGM’s procedures, the physical and psychological effects are unlikely to heal completely.

If you are a victim of FGM, you could be entitled to compensation. The compensation could help provide the financial support for:

  • obtaining specialist surgery to deal with the complications of the procedure
  • obtaining psychotherapy to facilitate recovery and healing from the pain, the abuse and the physical and emotional consequences of the surgery
  • obtaining physiotherapy or other medical support, for the short and long-term

For advice on making a compensation claim, please contact our child abuse and FGM compensation solicitors today. We offer a No-Win No-Fee Agreement so there is no financial risk involved if you are not successful. To discuss your case or to make an appointment please contact us on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, please email us at enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or complete our online form

FGM in the UK and the Legislation

Whilst the practice remains commonplace in Africa, the UK has made attempts to stamp it out. It is over 10 years since legislation was bolstered to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation. Unfortunately, despite making FGM a criminal offence the NHS still sees evidence of mutilation on girls and young women.  The Health and Social Care Information Centre reported that there were over 1200 reported cases of FGM in the first 3 months of 2016. It is therefore clear that much more needs to be done, but hopefully further legislation introduced in 2015 will help to protect more young girls.

In this further attempt to reduce the prevalence of this awful crime, potentially causing a lifetime of suffering, the Female Genital Mutilation Act was amended in 2015, making it a duty for specific professionals to make a report to the police, where either the girl informs the professional that they have been subjected to FGM or they observe physical signs appearing to show that a girl has been mutilated.

Those professionals required to make reports to the police are teachers or those who work in social and health care. Whilst failure to report FGM to the police is not a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015, the professional will find themselves subject to their regulatory body disciplinary procedures, which could result in the professional being barred from practice.

Thus the hope is that FGM will now be actively reported, particularly as the duty to report signs of FGM to the police is a personal one and cannot be delegated to others, for example an immediate line manager, unless that person has reason to believe another person has already made a report to the police.

Although the trigger for a report is limited, ie where a girl reports FGM or physical signs are observed, the teacher or health professional  should have regard to their wider safeguarding responsibilities and react accordingly, perhaps with a report to the local social services. Indeed, although there is no requirement to make a report to the police if a parent, sibling or guardian informs the teacher of a child being subject to FGM, again, one will expect that professional to be mindful of their wider duty, to safeguard the health and welfare of the girl.

Although there is a long stop of one month in which to make a report to the police, the expectation is that the police will be informed as soon as possible and, in practical terms, the next working day. A delay may be justified if the teacher or health professional has concerns that an immediate report may put the girl at risk.   

In line with safeguarding best practice the professional should advice the girls’ parents a report is being made and why. Ideally, this should be done in parallel with the report to the police, but again, this can be delayed if the child may be at risk, perhaps where there is the possibility of the parents fleeing the country with the girl.

If you or someone you know has suffered by FGM that person may be entitled to compensation. Such compensation may help the girl recover from the effects of the treatment, particularly if private medical care can be purchased to maximise rehabilitation, both in physical and psychological terms.   

Mother of a child abuse victim discusses how compensation helped her child recover from the abuse

Contact our child abuse solicitors today. We offer a No-Win No-Fee Agreement so there is no financial risk involved if you are not successful. To discuss your case or to make an appointment please contact us on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, please email us at enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or complete our online form