Doctor cleared in Britain’s first female genital mutilation trial

February 5, 2015 4:04 am
A London court has acquitted a doctor of carrying out female genital
mutilation (FGM), the first such case to be prosecuted in Britain.
Dhanuson
Dharmasena, 32, said he was “extremely relieved” after a jury at
Southwark Crown court found him not guilty after only 30 minutes of
deliberations.
He was accused of performing an FGM procedure on a
woman who gave birth at his hospital in 2012 following damage caused by
labour.

Dhanuson Dharmasena was accused of performing an FGM procedure on a
woman who gave birth at his hospital in 2012. Southwark Crown court
found him not guilty. Photo / AP

The woman, who was 24 at the time, first underwent FGM at the age of six in Somalia.
The doctor carried out the procedure again when her stitches tore during childbirth.
Critics questioned why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had chosen such a marginal case as its first FGM prosecution.

Defence barrister Zoe Johnson said her client had been “hung out to dry and made a scapegoat” for hospital failings.
“I
have always maintained that FGM is an abhorrent practice that has no
medical justification,” Dharmasena said in a statement after the verdict
was returned.
Another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, who translated for
the woman in hospital, was also cleared in the two-week trial of aiding
and abetting Dharmasena.
Prosecutors said the doctor performed a
procedure “against the policy of his employer” – Whittington Hospital
in north London – and that it was not “medically necessary”.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Ali Hussain, called the case a “show trial”.
“My
client strongly believes this case was nothing more than a show trial
— an effort by the CPS to regain some confidence after failing to bring
a prosecution despite FGM laws being in place since 1985.”
About
100 million to 140 million girls and women globally are thought to have
undergone FGM, which ranges from removal of the clitoris to more
widespread mutilation, and can lead to infection and severe long-term
pain.
Government figures indicate that tens of thousands of women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM.
Anti-FGM
legislation was extended in 2003 to make it an offence for British
nationals or permanent residents to carry out or seek FGM abroad, even
where it is legal.
The maximum penalty is 14 years in jail.

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