Family Law Report: Protecting a Girl from FGM
Date posted: 16 January 2018
Case Summary – Restrictions on Travel in Relation to a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order.
Re X (A Child) (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order) (Restrictions on Travel) (2017) – 15/11/17
This case concerned whether a travel ban should be imposed that prevents a child from visiting their father in Egypt, given the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Egypt and the concern that the paternal family may intend for the child to undergo FGM.
The child at the centre of this case was X, a 14 month old at the time of judgement. She was born in the UK on 22nd August 2016 to a white English mother whilst her Egyptian father resided in Egypt where the mother and father met. The couple met in January 2013 and married in May 2014 after the mother converted to Islam, although it is unclear whether this was a legal marriage.
The Local Authority at Hertfordshire issued proceedings for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO) with a ban on X travelling to Egypt following a home visit by a Health Visitor shortly after X returned home with her mother after her birth. The mother raised concerns about FGM to the Health Visitor after explaining that she and X were planning to travel to Egypt to visit the paternal family and that they were expecting X to undergo FGM whilst in Egypt. The Health Visitor referred the matter to the Local Authority who applied for an FGMPO with the travel ban to continue until X was 16 years old. This request was subsequently granted on an interim basis with both the mother’s and X’s passports being held by the Tipstaff.
The father denied that he or his family had intended for X to be subject to FGM on her visit to Egypt. The father denied that FGM had taken place in his family, despite the paternal grandmother providing evidence that she has been subject to FGM. There was also conflicting evidence about whether the father’s nieces or sisters had undergone FGM as the report did not clarify the tests that had been carried out or the qualifications of those conducting the investigation. The mother provided evidence that the father had assumed at the beginning of their relationship that she had undergone FGM. She explained that he believed FGM should be legalised in the UK and carried out in hospitals.
Ms Justice Russell took into account the prevalence of FGM in Egypt being around 92% in women who are, or have been married. The court therefore held that a FGMPO remain in force until 22nd August 2032 when X turns 16. The mother had her passport returned to her but there was an order made prohibiting her from travelling out of the jurisdiction or out of the UK to prevent onward travel to Egypt. It was held that the Tipstaff would remain in possession of X’s passport until the time that it expires, at which point it will be destroyed. It was also held that the mother cannot apply for any travel documents on behalf of X. The Court was insistent however, that contact not be prevented completely between the father and X, but that it must occur in the UK.
If you have a concern about this type of case, or if you need assistance with any family matter, please do not hesitate to contact the family team at Wilsons on 020 8885 7986