A British judge on Friday sentenced a Ugandan woman to 11 years in prison for cutting the genitals of her three-year-old daughter. She is the first person ever to be convicted of the practice in Britain. A jury had in February convicted the 37-year-old woman of female genital cutting in 2017, AFP reported.
“FGM [female genital mutilation] has long been against the law, and let’s be clear: FGM is a form of child abuse,” judge Phillipa Whipple of London’s Central Criminal Court said in her ruling. “It’s a barbaric practice and a serious crime.” The judge added two years to the woman’ sentence for possession of indecent images and extreme pornography.
The woman’s former partner, a 43-year-old Ghanaian man, was cleared of involvement in female genital cutting, but pleaded guilty to possession of an indecent image of a child and possessing extreme pornography, BBC reported. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison.
The woman claimed during her trial that in August 2017, her daughter climbed up to get a biscuit and “fell on metal and it’s ripped her private parts”. Medics treated the child’s injuries, but later alerted the police. The child “lost a significant amount of blood as a result of the injuries inflicted on her”, the prosecution told the jurors.
While it is not clear why the woman cut her daughter’s genitals, police officers who searched her home found evidence of witchcraft, The Guardian reported. “Two cow tongues, they were bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife also embedded in them, 40 limes were found and other fruit, which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them,” prosecuting officer Caroline Carberry said. “The names embedded included both police officers involved in the investigation of the case, the social worker, her own son and the then director of public prosecutions.”
However, the woman had denied her guilt. “Someone who would cut a child’s private parts, they’re not human,” she claimed. “I am not like that.”
Female genital cutting was criminalised in Britain in 1985, but no one had yet been convicted, AFP reported. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.