Lynne: Police should target “cutters” who perform genital mutilation on girls in Britain, not their parents

Lynne Featherstone in Zambia. Photo:  some rights reserved by DFID London Evening Standard reports:

Police should target “cutters” who perform genital mutilation on girls in Britain, rather than the parents who pay for it, International Development minister Lynne Featherstone says.

The minister, who this week visited Kenya to see how female genital mutilation is being stamped out there, said Britain needs to speed up the first prosecution here to send a warning that the practice will not be tolerated. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 but nobody has ever been prosecuted — a fact blamed partly on the reluctance of children to give evidence against their families.

Ms Featherstone, who plans to meet Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Niven, of the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, to discuss the issue, said: “The cutters who are performing illegally… they must be the first route in. It will remain difficult to get the parents. Prosecuting cutters is the more obvious route in…the view is it is challenging to get parents.

“The answer is not 20,000 sets of parents in prison. But we do need the prosecution message to be made. I am afraid there does need to be an example case.”

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  • Andrew Colman 30th Jun '13 - 10:48pm

    Both parents and cutters should be prosecuted without mercy. I would even support the death penalty for crimes such as FGM. A teacher who elopes with a 15 year old girl gets 5 years but no one has been jailed yet for FGM. There is something badly wrong here.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Jul '13 - 12:36am

    I must say I was confused when I read Lynne Featherstone, someone who I thought was a feminist, saying parents shouldn’t be prosecuted for FGM. Of course they should be prosecuted.

    Lib Dems need to stay away from all messages of being soft on crime, never mind one of the most heinous crimes in the world today. Going by this logic we may as well ban prosecuting all parents full stop.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Jul '13 - 2:49am

    No no, we are saying target the parents and the cutters more! Thinking you don’t need to go to prison or even be targeted by the police for doing something as bad as this is going down the route of the anarchistic society. Without punishment there is no justice.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Jul '13 - 3:13am

    I would just like to add that of course prevention must come before punishment, but surely punishment acts as a deterrent, which could prevent future mutilations?

    I respect the aims Lynne and those who agree with her, it is just the means where we disagree.

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