Yesterday a Somali man living with his family in Bristol was cleared on the judge’s direction of a child cruelty charge, brought as a result of his supposedly telling a passenger in his taxi that he had allowed his daughter to undergo a form of female genital mutilation (FGM). The passenger, Sami Ullah (right), was an activist with Integrate UK, formerly known as Integrate Bristol, and as a result of his information, two separate examinations were carried out on the girl in question (aged 6) and one on her two younger sisters, the first suggesting that some injury might have been inflicted on her but the second finding nothing. The man swore his accuser was lying and that he would not discuss his private life with strangers, and also that he did not want his daughter to suffer the health problems associated with FGM. This is only the third prosecution of anyone for FGM-related offences in this country and the third acquittal. A detailed report of the case can be found here.
I must say, I find it astonishing that anyone would think that a Somali man would disclose a thing like that to a total stranger who had been in his car less than ten minutes and who is not even of his race: the man’s name was Sami Ullah, a name commonly found among South Asians, not Somalis. The man (who cannot be named to protect his daughter’s identity) had been living in this country since 2004 and everyone knows FGM is not only illegal but the subject of enormous official and media interest, especially in Bristol for some reason where this clique of scaremongering busybodies hold rather too much sway (this was the city where a girl got an honorary doctorate for anti-FGM work at 19, two years younger than most people graduate with their first degree). If the authorities were not so desperate to demonstrate that they are “doing something” to bring perpetrators of FGM to book, they would not have given this case based on a mixture of hearsay and inconclusive medical examinations a second thought. The man’s computer and mobile phone had no evidence of research into FGM at the time of his arrest, although some might say he would not have needed to research this online.
A police spokeswoman said that the force accepted the court’s findings but insisted “FGM remains a deeply entrenched practice and we know these harmful procedures are happening in this country right now”. What on earth is her evidence for this? Every time statistics are published on FGM, they are always about “new cases” which are in fact old cases, i.e. adults being found to have undergone FGM, not fresh cases which would be evidenced by serious injuries, infections and even deaths, in the case of severe forms, in young girls. There is no excuse to submit a girl to an intrusive examination on the basis of a bit of hearsay and FGM really were happening in the UK, the evidence would come to light by itself rather than having to be manufactured.
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