FGM protection order issued to safeguard four sisters

Updated: 

A female genital mutilation (FGM) protection order has been issued to safeguard four young sisters after fears were raised that one of them could be taken abroad to be cut.

The girls have also been made wards of court at the request of a local authority and their passports handed to the police.

The making of the FGM order was revealed at the High Court in London on Monday as a judge ruled the case should be fully investigated.

Zimran Samuel, appearing for the local authority, which is based in the south of England, told the judge action was taken after the mother allegedly expressed her worry in October that her husband was planning to take one of the girls to Egypt to undergo the FGM procedure.

Her concerns arose after the daughter had displayed "one incident of sexualised behaviour", it was alleged.

Mr Samuel said the mother had originally said she was worried that the father's family, who lived in Egypt, would exert an "influence" on him, and that FGM was considered an appropriate method within the family's culture "to inhibit any sexualised urges or sensations".

But later the mother said she had been "misunderstood" by social workers and a teacher and a doctor she had spoken to and things had been taken out of context, Mr Samuel told Mr Justice Mostyn.

The local authority was concerned her two statements did not marry up.

Mr Samuel said: "There is a history of domestic violence and the mother may well have been under pressure.

"That is why the local authority remains concerned."

Baljinder Bath, appearing for the father, told the court he denied having any intention of taking the girls out of the UK for FGM.

Ms Bath said he was out of the country when the allegations were made and he had no knowledge of what was going on.

"This is a practice never practised by his family and is not something he would ever do to his children, and he is willing to offer an undertaking to the court," said Ms Bath.

He was also willing to provide names of family members in Egypt for the local authority to make further inquiries to confirm that was true.

Ordering a full fact-finding hearing to take place over two days next February, the judge said Parliament had taken "a very hard line" over FGM and it was regarded as a serious crime.

He said the case involved "a curious situation where parents still united in a functioning marriage don't have consistency between them in terms of the evidence".

If there was a serious risk that the girls could face FGM procedures abroad "measures will have to be taken".

It is expected that two social workers, a GP and school teacher will be among the witnesses called to give evidence at the full fact-finding hearing.

John Ward-Prowse, appearing for the mother, said she would address the issues of what she had said to a school teacher, doctor, the police and social workers and how what she had said had been misinterpreted.