Doctor faces trial for female genital mutilation in Britain's first FGM prosecution

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 21 March 2014 10:56 GMT

A survivor of FGM pictured in a London cafe. Photo September 2012, TRF/Claudine Boeglin

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The doctor is accused of restitching the vaginal opening of a woman who had previously undergone FGM

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A doctor is to go on trial for carrying out female genital mutilation on a patient after she had given birth at a London hospital in Britain's first FGM prosecution, it was announced on Friday.

Dr Dhanoun Dharmasena is accused of carrying out an FGM procedure by restitching the vaginal opening of a woman who had previously undergone FGM. The procedure - known as re-infibulation - was allegedly performed after she gave birth at the Whittington Hospital in November 2012.

“Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanoun Dharmasena for an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003),” Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said.

A second man, Hasan Mohamed, is charged with encouraging an offence of FGM, contrary to the Serious Crime Act, and of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dharmasena to commit an offence contrary to the FGM Act.

Dharmasena and Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on April 15.

Under section 1(1) of the FGM Act a person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a woman's or girl’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.

The Crown Prosecution Service also announced it had decided not to proceed with four other cases it had been examining because of insufficient evidence. Prosecutors are still considering four further cases of alleged FGM and are in discussions with police on two other investigations.

Although FGM was made a criminal offence in Britain in 1985, there has never been a prosecution. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

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