Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that has been carried out for many generations in some countries around the world. In those countries, it is a cultural norm. In England however, FGM is unlawful. Often a girl may be in danger of FGM if one or both of her parents are from or have a family connection to a country where FGM is commonly practised and there is a fear that the girl will be taken to that country for the purposes of FGM to be carried out. Sometimes the concern is that even if neither parent is supportive of FGM, their relatives in the other country would intervene (particularly if there is a certain hierarchy within the family) and attempt to cause the FGM to be undertaken because of their such strongly held beliefs in the practice of FGM. In this sort of situation, the English Court may be faced with an application by one of the parents or a public body such as the Local Authority to prevent the girl from being taken abroad along with an application for a protective order preventing the FGM from being carried out.
Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, the Court has the power to make an FGM Protection Order to protect a girl against the carrying out of an FGM offence or protecting a girl against whom such an offence has already been carried out. When the Court considers whether to make such a Protection Order, it will have regard to all the circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the girl to be protected. Much like forced marriage law, the law against FGM is very wide and the Court has the power to prohibit individuals from doing a range of acts and imposing restrictions and requirements as may be needed to protect the girl. This may include an Order for one or both parents to surrender the child’s passport along with their own.