Bishop of St Albans asks about prosecutions for female genital mutilation

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 29th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sharpe of Epsom on 14 March (HL6096), what assessment they have made of why there have only been two prosecutions for female genital mutilation out of the 229 offences recorded.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Con): The Government is committed to tackling female genital mutilation (FGM) and all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). The familial and hidden nature of FGM presents challenges in bringing a prosecution. Victims are mostly of a young age and vulnerable, and they often do not want to report offences that could lead to them giving evidence against family members. Some identified FGM victims have had the procedure before coming to the UK to live; in these circumstances there may not be jurisdiction to prosecute where the offence had no connection to the UK. Securing prosecutions is important, but it is also essential to protect women and girls at risk and to prevent FGM happening in the first place. FGM Protection Orders, mandatory reporting by front-line staff and an offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM are being used to safeguard those who may be at risk. The Government is funding a feasibility study to explore whether a more rigorous estimation of the prevalence of FGM and forced marriage in England and Wales can be made, to allow a deeper understanding of these crimes.

The CPS is working closely with stakeholders, including FGM support organisations, to develop a new VAWG Strategy to bring more offenders to justice and to improve victims’ experience of the criminal justice system. It will be published in Summer 2023.


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