Friday August 31, 2018
By Lizzie Dearden
The pair are to go on trial at the Old Bailey next year
A man and woman have denied they were responsible for the female genital mutilation of a three-year-old girl.
Wearing a pink patterned headscarf and grey top, the 36-year-old female Ugandan national pleaded not guilty to charges of female genital mutilation (FGM) at London's Old Bailey. It is the third attempted FGM prosecution in Britain. Two previous cases have ended with the suspects being acquitted.
The 43-year-old man, originally from Ghana made the same plea via video link from prison at HMP Thameside.
Judge Ann Molyneux QC remanded them in custody ahead of another hearing on 9 October, ahead of a three-week trial set for 14 January.
In March, a solicitor was cleared of arranging FGM for his daughter when she was nine years old at their London home.
The 50-year-old man, originally from West Africa, was also
acquitted of five other charges at the Old Bailey, including child
cruelty and wounding with intent.
At least 16,265 women and girls living in the UK
have told doctors they have FGM but officials believe the figure is the
tip of the iceberg as the practice remaining widely unreported.
NHS figures show that almost 4,500 women and girls came
forward for the first time in the year to March, although the procedure
may have been carried out years before and most cases happen abroad.
According to the World Health Organisation, the percentage
of women who have undergone the procedure in some countries is as high
as 96 per cent, with the highest rates including Somalia, Guinea, Egypt
FGM, which refers to any procedure that
intentionally alters female genital organs for non-medical reasons, has
been illegal in the UK since 1985 but the law was strengthened in 2003
to prevent girls travelling to undergo FGM abroad.
School holidays are a crucial time to intercept potential offenders, sparking the start of Operation Limelight in 2014 to question families flying into and out of Britain.
Friday's hearing came a day after British and
American law enforcement signed a proclamation to support each other's
investigations into the practice. Next week will see them conduct joint
operations across US and UK airports, and on the Eurostar.