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Judge bans mother from travelling with her child to Egypt to prevent the risk of female genital mutilation

18th December 2017

This is a very important decision from the English court based upon the paramount importance of a child’s welfare. A child, fourteen months of age, has a mother resident in the United Kingdom, and a father resident in Egypt. The parents wished the child to travel to Egypt for holidays to see the child’s father and wider family. Concerns arose about the possibility of the child suffering female genital mutilation should she be taken to Egypt.

Ms Justice Russell decided that in all the circumstances of the case, the child was at substantial risk of the offence of female genital mutilation being committed outside the United Kingdom, namely in Egypt. The Judge continued that the risk would increase with age (the highest risk being to girls between the ages of 9 and 12), and any Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order would have to remain in place throughout childhood, and through puberty, to provide protection. The Judge further concluded that the Order was not intended to prevent the child seeing her father or members of his family, and the Court would encourage the father and his family to visit the child in England. The Judge explained that the risks to the child were so great and the consequences of female genital mutilation so fundamental and profound breach of her rights, that the balance must come down in favour of an Order protecting the child from mutilation.

The Judge thereafter put in place a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order, until 22 August 2032. She Ordered the mother’s passport should be returned to the mother but in addition, there would be a further Order forbidding the mother from travelling anywhere outside the jurisdiction, or the United Kingdom, with the child until 22 August 2032 to prevent onward travel from a point outside the United Kingdom to Egypt.

The Judge continued that the child’s passport will continue to be held by the English Court until its expiration, at which time it should be destroyed. The mother was forbidden to apply for a passport or any other travel documents on behalf of the child, this Order extending to all other persons. A copy of the Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order was to be served on the relevant unit within the Home Office, to her Majesty’s passport office, to the Foreign and Commonwealth office and also the Egyptian Embassy.

The Judge concluded that contact between the child and her father can and should take place within England and Wales.

A superb child centred decision based upon risk to the child.

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Divorce & Family Law Specialist Scotland- Alasdair Docwra

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