Woman jailed for seven years for handing over girl, 3, for female genital mutilation

Mr Justice Bryan said it was the first successful prosecution for the ‘truly horrific and abhorrent crime’

Amy-Clare Martin
Crime Correspondent
Friday 16 February 2024 17:54 GMT
Woman jailed for seven years for handing over girl, 3, for female genital mutilation

A British woman has been jailed for seven years in a legal first after she was found guilty of handing over a three-year-old who was subjected to female genital mutilation.

Amina Noor, 40, took the toddler, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to Kenya in 2006 where the procedure was carried out.

A court heard the girl, who was not told what would happen to her, cried for the “whole night” after her clitoris was removed by a woman whose medical qualifications were not known.

Noor was found guilty of assisting a person to mutilate a girl’s genitalia while outside the UK, contrary to the FGM Act of 2003, following a week-long trial at the Old Bailey in October.

Sentencing her to seven years on Friday, judge Mr Justice Bryan said it was the first successful prosecution for the “truly horrific and abhorrent crime”, adding the victim’s life has been “irrevocably altered by your actions”.

The judge said he hoped the victim’s “bravery” would encourage others to come forward to report FGM, which is often perpetrated “under a cloak of secrecy”.

Referring to the victim as ‘Jade’ to protect her anonymity, he added: “It is to Jade’s very great credit that she came forward and had the confidence to speak to a teacher about what had been done to her, and it is to be hoped that her courage in doing so will inspire other women to do the same, so that the perpetrators of such vile practices are prosecuted, and such vile practices are deterred.”

He said it “defies belief” that an adult would allow a vulnerable young child to be mutilated, concluding that the toddler would have been “held down” and suffered significant pain and “copious bleeding”.

He said that the removal of the clitoris amounted to the destruction of an organ, noting potential complications can include swelling, delayed wound healing, urine retention and infection - which can lead to sepsis and death - while the long term impacts are “irreversible”.

Dressed in black at the Old Bailey, Noor wiped away tears as she was led from the dock.

In mitigation, Nneka Akudolu KC, defending, had urged the court to “at least consider” an alternative to a substantial custodial sentence – arguing that Noor believed the victim would be subjected to a “far less invasive” procedure.

She told the court Noor, who was born in Somalia but fled to Kenya during the civil war before relocating to Britain aged 16, was “pressured” to take the child for the procedure.

The court heard that 94 per cent of women of Somali origin living in Kenya undergo FGM, according to United Nations’ figures.

“It’s difficult for us to understand and comprehend that pressure. This repugnant practise was embedded in that culture and she was clearly, plainly influenced at the time in the belief she was doing what was necessary to be accepted,” she said.

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim – now 21 – insisted she is “not angry” with Noor.

The victim said: “I know that had I been in her position with the failure of education, with the pressure from people I loved most, I would also have gone through with it.”

During the trial, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC said Ms Noor travelled by tuk-tuk to a clinic at a private house in the east African country, where the girl was taken into a room on her own by a woman whose medical qualifications were not known.

The girl, who was born in Britain, was not told what would happen to her or was “too young to understand”.

“Whilst they were there, she took [the girl] to the house of Kenyan woman, where [the girl] was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM),” she told the court.

Afterwards, the toddler cried the whole night, complaining of pain when she went to the toilet, while cotton wool was stuck to the wound after the procedure, the court heard.

The incident was not reported until 2018, when the girl – then aged 16 – confided in an English teacher who contacted the authorities.

During a medical examination at a London hospital in 2019, doctors confirmed the girl’s clitoris had been fully removed.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Patricia Strobino said the conviction sends a “clear message” (PA)

In a police interview in 2019, Noor, who denied the charge, said she had expected the child to undergo ‘Sunnah’, which she said was the insertion of a needle in the genitalia to draw blood, but insisted she did not know her clitoris would be removed.

Giving evidence, Noor, from Harrow, northwest London, told jurors she feared she would have been “disowned and cursed” if she did not hand over the child.

Following the conviction last year, senior crown prosecutor Patricia Strobino, who works in the CPS London Complex Casework Unit, urged other FGM survivors to come forward.

She said: “This kind of case will hopefully encourage potential victims and survivors of FGM to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they are supported, believed and also are able to speak their truth about what’s actually happened to them.

“It will also send a clear message to those prospective defendants or people that want to maintain this practice that it doesn’t matter whether they assist or practise or maintain this practice within the UK, or overseas, they are likely to be prosecuted.”

The Met’s Detective Superintendent Andy Furphy, whose team led the investigation, added: “We know FGM can be a taboo subject, which is rarely discussed within families and communities – we must build trust with those impacted so we can protect victims. It’s not our job to judge and we will always remain sensitive and respectful.  

“I hope today’s sentence acts as a real deterrent to those who choose to harm children in this way. Most importantly, I hope that we can use this result as an opportunity to continue to raise awareness of this topic, ensuring victims know that there is support and help out there.”

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