LONDON (AP) — A woman was found guilty in London Thursday of subjecting a 3-year-old British girl to female genital mutilation during a trip to Kenya, British authorities said.
The Crown Prosecution Service said a jury had found 39-year-old Amina Noor guilty of assisting a Kenyan woman to carry out the trial 17 years ago.
It is the first time a person has been convicted in England of female genital mutilation committed abroad, British prosecutors said.
The case came to light in 2018 when the girl, then a teenager, told a teacher that as a young child she had undergone circumcision surgery, in which part or all of the female external genitalia was removed.
London’s Metropolitan Police opened an investigation and discovered that Noor, a British citizen born in Somalia, traveled with the girl to Kenya in 2006 and took her to a private home where the procedure was carried out.
Noor told police she assumed the child would only get one shot and didn’t appear to be in pain afterward. But medical experts who examined the girl found that her clitoris had been removed, and prosecutors alleged that Noor aided and abetted the crime.
Senior prosecutor Patricia Strobino said such cases are often difficult to uncover because they take place in secret and victims are afraid to come forward for fear of being shunned by their communities. However, she stressed that British authorities would seek to prosecute practices of female genital mutilation, regardless of how long ago they occurred or where they took place.
“We want to send a strong message that this crime does not need to be committed in the UK for the perpetrators to be prosecuted,” Strobino said in a statement. “We will seek justice for victims regardless of where in the world the crime is committed, and perpetrators should be clear that there is no hiding place.”
The United Nations aims to eliminate female genital mutilation, which is still widespread in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, by 2030.
UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, estimates that at least 200 million women and girls in 31 countries live with the effects of the practice, which in some cases can lead to excessive bleeding or death, as well as pain during sex and complications in childbirth.
According to the agency, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda account for nearly a quarter of the world’s female genital mutilation cases, and girls are often trafficked across borders into Kenya to avoid prosecution in their own countries.
Noor is scheduled to be sentenced in December and faces a maximum sentence of 14 years.
The only other successful prosecution in the UK came in 2019, when a Ugandan woman from east London was sentenced to 11 years in prison for carrying out the procedure on a young girl.
Source : apnews.com