On Friday, a Ugandan migrant living in London was found guilty of mutilating her 3-year-old daughter's genitals, a sexist practice meant to tame females' sexuality common in some Muslim-majority countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The 37-year-old mom became the first in the U.K. to be convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM). According to The New York Times, the victim’s father, 43, was cleared of all charges.
“Female genital mutilation has an appalling physical and emotional impact on victims that usually lasts their entire life,” said deputy chief crown prosecutor Lynette Woodrow in a statement. “A 3-year-old has no power to resist or fight back.”
The horrific practice is banned in Britain.
The little girl was “deliberately cut and her injuries amounted to F.G.M.,” according to prosecutors. Medical experts refuted the mother’s claim that the girl’s injuries were from a fall onto a metal line cupboard door in the kitchen.
“I come before thee today with tears in my eyes, fear in my heart,” the toddler’s mother wrote in her journal. “My mother, I made a choice in my life. With that choice I could be going to jail.”
The mother will be sentenced on March 8.
The guilty conviction is seen as a “landmark case,” signaling that the targeting of little girls will not be tolerated, noted University of Roehampton professor Aisha Gill.
Genital cutting was banned in the United States in 1996, but last year a judge in Detroit declared the law unconstitutional, thereby leaving such regulation up to states. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the ruling led to the dismissal of FGM charges against two Michigan doctors and six others:
The historic case involves minor girls from Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, including some who cried, screamed and bled during the procedure and one who was given Valium ground in liquid Tylenol to keep her calm, court records show.
The judge's ruling also dismissed charges against three mothers, including two Minnesota women whom prosecutors said tricked their 7 -year-old daughters into thinking they were coming to metro Detroit for a girls' weekend, but instead had their genitals cut at a Livonia clinic as part of a religious procedure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that it is estimated that "more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated." The practice "has been documented in 30 countries, mainly in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia."
The United Kingdom is flush with migrants. In 2017, for example, London absorbed 3.4 million foreign-born people, according to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory. The city's first FGM case follows a series of other assimilation-related problems increasingly plaguing the city, including an onslaught of acid attacks — over 1,800 reports of such a crime since 2010. Notably, as reported by the BBC, “Since 2014 about 74% of investigations have been wound down due to problems with identifying perpetrators, or victims being unwilling to press charges.”
And in the U.K. more generally, there have been recent reports of so-called "breast-ironing" of developing girls. The Daily Wire reported Sunday:
An African tradition of ironing young girls' breasts to stop development has hit the United Kingdom, a new report shows.
So-called “breast-ironing” entails taking hot stones to a girl's chest, as you would an iron, in order to stunt her development. The painful practice may be done numerous times to a growing child, often on a weekly basis, depending on how each girl’s development is affected.
“Breast-ironing” is typically done by female elders in the girl's family, such as her mother, with the supposed purpose of keeping unwanted male attention away from the child and curb the threat of rape and sexual assault, a report from The Guardian details.