Why is a British MP Blocking an Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Bill?

Sir Christopher Chope, a conservative British MP, has been called an “embarrassment to [his] party and humanity” after blocking a bill to protect children from female genital mutilation (FGM).

The 71-year-old MP’s objection was met with an audible groan from his peers. According to parliamentary procedure, a bill can be blocked if even one MP objects, a rule which Chope has a reputation for taking advantage of when laws regarding women and girls (and human decency) are on the table. This marks the second time Chope has blocked anti-FGM legislation.

The bill would have allowed courts to issue a protection order if they believe a child is at risk of FGM.

Chope claims to object to all private member bills—bills which are introduced by an MP and not part of the government’s plan—on principal. Yet he did not object to a private member bill brought forward by his own party and brought before parliament the same day as the FGM legislation. In fact, in the last year Chope has sponsored 31 such bills himself.

His principle seems rather less to do with the scrutiny a private member bill receives and more to do with blocking progress and protections for women, girls, marginalized groups and animals.

In 2018, he blocked legislation which would have made upskirting illegal. Fortunately, the bill passed recently despite his efforts. He also blocked a proposal to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage with a conference in parliament.

A few years earlier, in 2014, he voted against the Equal Pay (Transparency) Act, which would have required companies with more than 250 employees to disclose their gender pay gaps. The year before that, he objected to a bill which would have pardoned Alan Turing, a World War II codebreaker who was prosecuted for homosexuality.

Many reactions to Chope’s objection, even from his own party, were filled with disgust.

“As anticipated, Chope objected to the FGM Bill. Just appalling,” said Chope’s fellow Tory, MP Zac Coldsmith.

Nimco Ali, anti-FGM activist and co-founder of Daughters of Eve, had begged Chope not to block the bill.

“The idea that I a Survivor have to beg a member of Parliament to help protect girls is painful,” Ali tweeted. “But I did it and to get the replies I did has broken my heart.”

Ali uploaded screenshots of her text conversation with Chope to Twitter. Chope argued that the bill should be “fully debated” in parliament.

“Please just be honest, you don’t care about the rights of girls who will be subjected to the most horrific form of abuse,” Ali texted back. “You are an embarrassment to your party and to humanity.”

Members of Chope’s own party had encouraged Ali to contact him directly and ask him not to block the bill. She resorted to text message when several attempts at calling Chope were unsuccessful.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

59 comments

Helen C
Helen C2 hours ago

It is torture and just wrong!!!

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Carole R
Carole R5 hours ago

Thanks for posting.

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Phillip A
Phillip A6 hours ago

Chope the dope...

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David C
David C6 hours ago

FGM is awful.....

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Ciaron Drain
Ciaron Drain9 hours ago

It is simple Chope is an utter Bell End and he should live in a place called Bell End in a street called Bell End.; He does this every time as a matter of pincipal : that being he is a Bell End. However, this does actually qualify he to be a Tory MP these days.

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Mary B
Mary B10 hours ago

Nothing needs to be debated. Torture is torture and it is wrong, unacceptable, whether it is this or circumcision. The religious traditions that allow this is must stop it immediately and the perpetrators treated as criminals. NO MORE ! No excuses.

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer13 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer13 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Paul Carter
Paul Carter19 hours ago

Chope claims he wants a proper debate in Parliament. He says wants this debate to be created by a Government Bill. The only debate should be how to frame the bill to protect girls from this form of life changing mutilation and how to prosecute the perpetrators of this violence. I am ashamed that in the UK only one successful prosecution has been achieved to date when it has been reported that there are hundreds if not thousands of girls who have been subjected to FGM without their consent and many more are at risk.

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danii p
danii p20 hours ago

Thank you

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