Baroness Gould of Potternewton – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton on 2014-03-26.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that the current legislation against female genital mutilation provides sufficient protection against the practice, whether carried out in the United Kingdom or abroad.

Lord Faulks

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing the harmful and unacceptable practice of female genital mutilation.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 extended significantly the protection that the law affords to victims of this unacceptable practice. However, to deal with perpetrators of these offences, cases must be reported to the police and the evidential and public interest tests for prosecution must be met. At the time of mutilation, victims may be too young and vulnerable, or too afraid, to report offences. They may also be reluctant to implicate family members. These barriers to prosecution cannot easily be overcome. Therefore it is important to find ways of building a case that do not necessarily rely on the testimony of child victims.

As part of cross-government work, the Ministry of Justice is already considering suggestions made by the Director of Public Prosecutions for strengthening the criminal law on female genital mutilation to make successful prosecutions more likely.

We welcome the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into this area and will give careful consideration to any additional recommendations for legislative change that may be made by the Committee when it reports in due course.