The Cutting Season – FGM in Britain

Liz already posted about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain, but I want to keep the conversation going. I was also taken by the story of the activist that Liz mentioned, Fahma Mohamed, and by Leyla Hussein, who Liz did not mention. Leyla was featured in “The Cruel Cut,” a documentary that has fueled the fire beneath the debate about FGM in Britain.


“Love Productions – Leyla Hussein, a British survivor of FGM featured in “The Cruel Cut,” a documentary that has helped trigger a debate in Britain over how to tackle FGM.”

FMG is the partial or complete removal of the external female genital organs. FMG is typically preformed without any type of anesthetic and with a household knife or razor blade. During type 3 FGM, which is the most severe, the vaginal opening is sewn almost entirely shut. As Liz mentioned, FGM can have many health risks associated with it, some of which are very severe and can result in the death.

Also as Liz pointed out, FGM is illegal Britain. The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 updated laws from 1985 regarding the illegality of FGM and the consequences. No one has been prosecuted for the practice of FGM since 1985, but as of this week, there may be two prosecutions on the horizon. Director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders has announced that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Dr. Dhanoun Dharmasena and Hasan Mohamed.

Dr. Dharmasena allegedly repaired FGM that had previously happened to a woman after she gave birth in the Whittington Hospital. Hasan is not a medic, but is alleged with the same charges.

Director Saunders has concluded that these two cases have sufficient evidence to continue on with a prosecution. Both men will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 15.

This is a huge step in the right direction for the fight against FGM in Britain, and it is what activists like Fahma and Leyla are striving for. Yet, figures obtained by the BBC show that 390 cases of FGM were recorded by the Whittington Hospital between 2010 and 2013 alone. That is almost 400 cases in three years that were recorded and reported to the police, but not a single prosecution took place.

Director Saunders says that most of these cases lacked appropriate referrals to follow up with a prosecution. Why is it so hard for doctors and nurses to speak out against FGM when the victims of it are speaking out themselves?

The road to elimination of such heinous practices is long. Women like Fahma and Leyla looked to women campaigning against FGM in the Netherlands and France. This issue has recently come to light in Britain as there has been as insurgence of immigrants to the country. To bring it back to our population discussion, Britain’s population is slowly decreasing and opening up its borders to immigrants helps maintain the population size. A broader array of cultures brings with it traditions and beliefs was foreign to Britain. FGM is not a tradition to turn a blind eye to.

We haven’t heard much in the United States about FGM, but I am hoping that with women in the Netherlands, France, and now Britain to look up to, we soon will.


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