British police have arrested two men in Birmingham on charges of violating the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, which bans the cutting of girls’ genitalia except on the grounds of medical necessity. The arrests were related to articles in the April 22 Sunday Times according to which undercover reporters described a doctor at a private clinic referring them to a dentist, Dr. Omar Sheikh Mohamed Addow, who said he did “circumcision surgery” for children. The dentist said he would carry out the operation as did an alternative medical practitioner, Dr Ali Mao-Aweys, when separately consulted.
Both men were arrested after police raids and are being held while being questioned; both have denied the allegations and say they are opposed to FGM.
FGM can cause long-term severe physical, psychological and sexual problems for girls and women subjected to it and is a violation of their human rights. As Care2 blogger Judy Molland has written, FGM also “reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.”
As Detective Inspector Caroline Marsh of the West Midlands police protection unit said in a statement (quoted in Agence France-Presse via Raw Story):
We are still in the very early stages of this investigation but I hope this morning’s action sends out a clear message about how seriously we are taking these allegations.
Female genital mutilation is a serious assault against young girls and while it is perceived by parents not to be an act of hate, it is harmful, it is child abuse and it is unlawful.
According to the Telegraph, some 100 million girls — including those as young as 10 years old — and women around the world have been subjected to FGM, which can involve the removal of clitoris to more widespread mutilation including the stitching of the vaginal opening. The procedure can cause infection and long-term severe pain.
As immigration from the Middle East and Africa has increased, the number of girls and women in Britain subjected to FGM has increased. Performing FGM carries up to a 14-year prison sentence in the U.K. and arranging for the horrific practice is also illegal.
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