A South Yorkshire girl believed to be at risk of genital mutilation has been offered protection from the courts after an investigation by South Yorkshire Police.
The three-year-old was made a ward of court and placed under the protection of a non-molestation order by a High Court judge
Officers from South Yorkshire Police identified the girl as being a potential victim of female genital mutilation and the decision of the court now prevents the girl’s family from engaging in or preparing for any act of genital mutilation in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
It also prevents the family from taking the child out of the country.
The non-molestation order prevents any violence or threat of violence, including genital mutilation, against the child.
Breaches of the orders could result in a jail term.
Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, it is illegal for the act to be performed.
It is also an offence for a UK national or permanent UK resident to carry out the mutilation, or to help and enable someone else to carry it out.
The law still applies when the victim is taken to a country where the act is legal.
If convicted, perpetrators can face up to 14 years in prison.
Detective Sergeant Suzanne Bluck, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The decision of the High Court judge last week is a real breakthrough for our force and the protection we can offer to victims and potential victims of this horrific crime.
“This is an incredibly taboo issue that we need to continue to talk about if we are going to prevent this monstrosity happening to our young women.
“Let’s be very clear - female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse and as such, it will not be tolerated and we will use whatever options are available to us to safeguard those at risk.”
She added: “Female genital mutilation is a significantly under-reported crime, so while it’s very difficult to definitively state how many young girls are at risk, we must do everything we can to protect victims and potential victims.
“We believe that this is an issue that will affect certain communities in South Yorkshire and I hope this case encourages victims and potential victims, or anyone with concerns, to come forward and get the support they need.”
While it is thought that female genital mutilation predominantly takes place outside the UK, police believe it is a vastly under-reported crime.
To report concerns call South Yorkshire Police on 101.
For further information, advice and support, call the NSPCC female genital mutilation helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Childline can also be contacted on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.