On 15 March 2019, the Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2019 received Royal Assent thereby making it an official Act of Parliament. The act enables family courts to make a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO) within Children Act 1989 proceedings. Therefore, separate proceedings needn’t be issued if a girl is considered to be at risk of or a victim of a genital mutilation offence.
An application for an FGMPO can be made by the girl at risk, a Local Authority, or another person with the permission of the court (such as a doctor, friend, or family member). Applications for FGMPOs should be made using the form FGM001. The Court will consider the circumstances of your concerns in relation to the grant of permission. You may need to seek legal advice as to whether your concerns are known to the local authority or professionals involved with the child concerned such as medical practitioners.
When made, a FGMPO has particularised conditions, which are unique to the individual case. These conditions can be restrictions such as surrendering a passport, which will prevent the girl at risk from being taken abroad with the intention of her undergoing FGM. Breaching an FGMPO, i.e. if the respondent ‘breaks’ the conditions of the order, is a criminal offence and can potentially come with a sentence of five years in prison. The police can be contacted as a result of a breach and an application should be made for the respondent’s arrest thereafter. Alternatively, the respondent could be sent to prison for two years for contempt of court.
Going to court can be a very daunting and scary process. It is important to remember that the court can offer protective measures to better ensure feelings of safety and security. If you are making an application, it is recommended that you outline your concerns on the application form and, if required, special provisions can be made so that you avoid being present at the court hearing with other persons involved (such as separate waiting rooms or installing a screen when you give evidence). It is advised that you speak to a solicitor should you have any queries or concerns in respect of the process or your access to legal aid. If you are currently in Children Act 1989 proceedings and require assistance making an application for an FGMPO, please do not hesitate to call us on 020 7608 1227.