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High Court order for protection of a six and a half year old from the risk of FGM

FGMPO to remain in place until her 17th birthday.

In Re Z (A Child) (FGMPO: Prevalence of FGM) [2017] EWHC 3566 (Fam) the mother of "Z" a six and a half year old girl, applied for a prohibited steps order and a female genital mutilation protection order because she feared Z may be subjected to FGM were Z to go to Guinea with the child's father.

The father wanted to take his daughter to Guinea to visit his family so that she could see where he came from and to directly experience the cultural and ethnic background. 

The concern was not the risk from the father but from the wider community to which he belongs in Guinea. 

Ms Justice Russell heard evidence from an expert who had worked in Guinea and adjacent countries in West Africa and whose first-hand knowledge was described by Her Ladyship as "extensive and difficult to gainsay." The expert indicated that there was a paucity or almost total lack of protective measures that could be put in place through the judicial system in Guinea and that FGM would be considered a family matter and not a matter for the police so that any dispute (between F and the elders in his family for example) would be settled by mediation authorities of religion, village or local or family elders and that since most people in that country believe FGM should continue that the system would provide little or no protection for Z.

Taking into account all of the circumstances of the case and the paramountcy principle set out in s 1(1) of the Children Act (CA) 1989, Her Ladyship ordered a FGMPO which would remain in force until Z's 17th birthday with permission for Z to apply to the court prior to that if she wished to travel elsewhere with her father in her teens.

It was further ordered that during those times when Z was staying with her father he was to surrender his passport to be held by the mother's solicitors.

For the full text of the judgment and also for a detailed summary of the judgment by Sarah Tyler, barrister at Coram Chambers click here