Wednesday, April 9, 2014

British Muslim Doctor Charged for Girl's Genital Mutilation

Type of FGM done on Muslim girls in London.
London’s Whittington Hospital’s Muslim doctor becomes first person in Britain charged with performing a Female Genital Mutilation procedure. Two men will appear in court last month following a review of FGM cases.

The first ever prosecutions under the Female Genital Mutilation Act have been announced by the Crown Prosecution Service. Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, from the Whittington Hospital in North London and another man Hasan Mohamed, 40, are to be charged in connection with an incident following a birth at the hospital in 2012.

It is alleged that the doctor carried out the procedure after being encouraged and aided by Mr Mohamed. Announcing the prosecution, Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The CPS was asked to consider evidence in relation to this allegation of female genital mutilation (FGM) by the Metropolitan Police Service.

“It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital, in London, repaired FGM that had previously been performed on the patient, allegedly carrying out FGM himself.

“Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena for an offence contrary to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

“I have also determined that Hasan Mohamed should face one charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of FGM and a second charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dr Dharmasena to commit an offence.” She added: “Dr Dharmasena and Hasan Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April.”

Prosecutors said they had also looked at four other cases – one of which was new and three that were reconsidered after decisions to take no further action – and found there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

Muslim doctors regularly perform FGM at British hospitals.
One of the old cases involved a man calling an FGM helpline, intended for victims, to ask for the procedure to be carried out on his two daughters. The new case involved two parents accused of taking their daughter abroad to have FGM. The CPS (Crown Prosecution Services) would not give details of the other two cases.

FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985, and in 2003 the maximum sentence was increased from five to 14 years in jail. One report indicated last year that as many as 100,000 women in Britain have undergone the illegal operation, with medics in this country offering to carry out the procedure on girls as young as 10.

John Cameron, NSPCC Head of Child Protection Operations, said: “This is great news for the fight against FGM. The fact that we hadn’t previously had a prosecution in the UK for this child abuse despite it being a crime for almost 30 years is unacceptable.

“Today’s announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service sends out a strong message that they are taking FGM seriously. FGM is a public health issue that needs increased collaboration from professionals across heath, education and the police. We urge anyone who is worried about a child or wants support or advice to call our FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.”

Commander Mak Chishty from the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “Across the country, police are working extensively to investigate and build strong cases against those suspected of inflicting or aiding or abetting female genital mutilation (FGM).

“Today’s charging decision demonstrates how much gravity the police, prosecutors and government places on ending FGM. Female genital mutilation is a barbaric crime that has no place in modern day Britain. The police are committed to working closely with health services, schools, colleges, social services and third sector organisations which have an understanding of this form of abuse and can help us reach those who may be at risk.

“Prosecutions of those who continue this horrific and outdated practice should signal a warning to those who’ve committed or are considering inflicting female genital mutilation as well as anyone who assists them or stays quiet when they know this abuse been committed; we are pursuing offenders and working to bring them to justice so that we can protect victims – some of them painfully young - and stamp out this appalling crime.”

FGM charges against doctor 'have left medical staff afraid'

Maternal health expert says midwives and obstetricians now fear prosecution if they repair damage after childbirth the wrong way. Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena from the Whittington hospital in London is one of the first to be charged under the Female Genital Mutilation Act.  

Victims of female genital mutilation could be left bleeding after childbirth because medical staff are now afraid they may be prosecuted if they repair damage in the wrong way, one of the country's leading experts in maternal health has warned.

Prof Peter Brocklehurst, director of the Institute for Women's Health at University College London, said the first ever charges announced last week against a doctor who is said to have repaired a mutilation on a mother after childbirth had sparked "a lot of worry among midwives and obstetricians about what they can and can't do to control haemorrhaging".

Some female genital mutilation involves sewing up the vagina to leave a small hole and childbirth causes considerable bleeding that requires rapid repair.

"Your primary objective is to reduce the bleeding and pain and you are having to think about whether somebody is going to prosecute you for FGM," Brocklehurst said. "A lot of obstetricians and midwives right now will be feeling terrified about how to act. People will want to consult senior colleagues in FGM cases and women may be waiting and bleeding in the meantime."

His comments came after Dr Katrina Erskine, consultant gynaecologist and head of obstetrics at Homerton hospital in Hackney, north-east London, voiced anger at the prosecution of Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Whittington hospital, north London, for allegedly carrying out FGM on a patient.

The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, trumpeted the charges last week against Dharmasena and another man as the first ever under the Female Genital Mutilation Act – 29 years after FGM first became illegal in England and Wales. The decision to charge a hospital doctor over a repair rather than someone responsible for carrying out the mutilation in the first place has sparked concern in parts of the medical profession.

Erskine said repairing previous FGM procedures should not be considered a criminal act.

"All women are asked if they have been cut [before labour] and if there is only a small opening they are offered a process called defibulation," she said. "Some don't want to be opened before going into labour. Then the baby comes out and there's lots of blood and the doctor has to sew it up. That is not FGM. FGM is slicing off the clitoris and labia minora. That's what makes me really angry."

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stressed that the facts of the Dharmasena case were yet to be heard in court, and said there was sufficient evidence and the prosecution was in the public interest.

Joseph Aquilina, consultant obstetrician at the Royal London hospital, questioned whether "the CPS are barking up the wrong tree".

"If [the FGM] is done already and [repairing it] is going to stop the bleeding then so be it," he said. "Provided the woman's consent is involved that would be a private matter between the doctor and the patient. Hospital doctors who are faced with FGM have to repair it to stop the bleeding because the damage is already done."

Earlier Saunders told MPs that healthcare, educational and social work staff should be required by law to report to the police suspected cases of female genital mutilation. She said that over the past two to three years only 11 FGM cases had been referred to the CPS by police, despite at least 144 complaints being made to police. She said the lack of prosecutions stemmed from a lack of evidence rather than flaws in the legislation.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, said it had heard evidence that as many as 66,000 women in England and Wales had been subjected to FGM. "Eleven referrals sounds a very small figure," he said.

Saunders said it was no use waiting for "the archetypal young girl to come through the door" who was willing to give evidence against her family. What was needed was more "intelligence-led investigations" and more professionals referring cases to the police.

Related posts as following links:
Female Genital Mutilations in United States of America