A London doctor, Dr. Dhanuson Dharmasena, went on trial for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM). This is the first such case to be prosecuted in Britain despite pressure from campaigners. FGM is illegal in Britain since 1985 but no-one has ever been prosecuted.
The 32 year old doctor is accused of performing an FGM procedure on a woman who gave birth at his hospital in 2012 following damage caused by labor. Another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, who translated for the woman in hospital, is accused of encouraging an offense of FGM, and of aiding and abetting Dr. Dharmasena.
The woman, who was 24 at the time of her delivery, first underwent FGM at the age of 6 years in Somalia. Dr. Dharmasena carried out the procedure again when her stitches tore during childbirth.
Prosecutor Kate Bex said, "It is that stitching back together by Dr Dharmasena, and Mr Mohamed's insistence or encouragement, which the prosecution says is an offense under the act. The procedure was against the policy of his employer, Whittington Hospital in north London, and that it was not medically necessary."
Dr. Dharmasena has denied the charge and said, "The procedure may have been medically justified."
British government figures indicate that tens of thousands of women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. Last year a new requirement on British hospitals was introduced to keep a record of patients who have been subjected to FGM. The Anti-FGM legislation was extended in 2003 to make it an offense for British nationals or permanent residents of UK to carry out FGM abroad or seek FGM abroad, even where it is legal. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.