UK criminal court hands down sentence in landmark female genital mutilation case News
VirtuallyLondonBecky, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
UK criminal court hands down sentence in landmark female genital mutilation case

The UK Central Criminal Court handed down its sentence Friday in the landmark female genital mutilation (FGM) case against defendant Amina Noor for carrying out an FGM procedure on a UK citizen oversees, sentencing Noor to 7 years imprisonment.

The victim of the crime, under the alias of Jade for her protection, was three years old when Noor took her to Kenya where she was subjected to FGM. Noor was born in Somalia and moved to Kenya to escape the war. She arrived in the UK at 16 years old where she was granted refugee status and eventually UK citizenship through naturalization. Noor travelled to Kenya in 2006 with Jade where she alleges that her family, including her mother, pressured her into subjecting Jade to FGM. Noor argued in her defense that she was ignorant to what the practice entailed, and believed it was a “painless injection.” However, Justice Simon Bryan rejected the argument, asserting that the evidence before the court suggests that Noor was well aware of the practice, and that her culpability was “very high.” Jade revealed the crime to her English teacher when she was 16.

Noor was formally charged with the crime last year. The judgement notes that FGM amounts to torture according to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 1 and 16 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Noor was sentenced in accordance with section 3 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. The Child Cruelty Guidelines were also considered in sentencing. She was sentenced to 9 years 6 months, which was adjusted to 7 years to reflect the considerable delays in the case.

There have been no previous successful convictions of this kind under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, which prohibits the practice in the UK, and prohibits anyone from taking girls overseas to perform the procedure. Parliament strengthened the laws protecting girls from the procedure in 2015 after criticism about the lack of convictions and a report revealing 5,702 new cases in England in 2015.

According to the UN, “some 4.4 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation.” The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that “at least 200 million women worldwide” are victims of the crime.