UK mum weeps in court as she denies cutting daughter's genitals

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 28 January 2019 18:41 GMT

A statue representing the scales of justice is seen on the roof of the Old Bailey courts in central London, January 26, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985, but there has never been a successful prosecution

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Jan 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A mother accused of cutting her three-year-old daughter's genitals at their east London home wept as she told a jury on Monday that anyone who could do such a thing was "not human".

Police launched an investigation when doctors discovered cuts to the girl's genitals after her parents rushed her to hospital.

The mother, who is on trial for female genital mutilation (FGM), said her daughter had injured herself while reaching for biscuits in the kitchen.

"I love my children," she told the Central Criminal Court jury as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.

"No one cut (her), I swear, no one," she said. "I did not do it."

The mother and the girl's father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny two charges of FGM and failing to protect a girl from the risk of FGM on August 28, 2017.

FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985, but there has never been a successful prosecution.

The Ugandan mother-of-two said she did not even know what FGM was when a hospital nurse first mentioned it.

"Where we come from we do not cut women's private parts," the former care worker said. "I had never heard of the word FGM in my life."

Asked in court how she felt about the allegation, she replied: "It's a big accusation. Someone who would cut a child's private parts, they are not human. I'm not like that."

In earlier evidence, doctors told the jury that the cuts were consistent with FGM and could not have been caused by a fall.

Asked if the doctors were wrong, the mother said: "What happened to (my daughter) is a mystery to me."

But the woman's son told police in a filmed interview played to the jury that his mother had cut his sister.

He said he was watching television when his sister came out of the bedroom bleeding.

"I saw blood dripping on the floor and she was crying," he told police.

The boy had originally told investigators that his sister hurt herself falling, but later wrote a letter to them saying he wanted to tell the truth.

"(My mum) has been lying a lot (because) she didn't want to get in trouble ... She cut my sister," he told police.

The mother also told the jury she had turned to witchcraft to make the accusations go away. One spell she found on YouTube involved cows' tongues embedded with nails.

Frozen limes were also discovered at the home containing the names of investigators along with messages such as "I freeze you out of life".

(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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