Police have arrested two people in London in relation to the alleged genital mutilation of a baby girl, the Evening Standard reported.
According to the paper, police hope the case could result in a landmark first ever prosecution for FGM in the UK.
The alleged act of “cutting” itself is said to have taken place abroad. It can involve the removal of parts of all of the labia and clitoris, and sometimes the sewing up of the vagina.
Officers said the two accused and their alleged victim – believed to have been only around five or six weeks old at the time – all live in Britain. The pair could be prosecuted under legislation passed in 2003 that made it illegal to send a girl abroad for genital mutilation. The practice was outlawed in the UK in 1985.
Sources told the Standard that this particular alleged case involves an unprecedentedly young girl, and every effort is being made to gather evidence to allow police to bring charges.
One potential stumbling block is reported to be an issue of the baby’s nationality at the time of the alleged mutilation – due to the limits of the legislation, a prosecution is only expected to be approved if it was after the girl received her UK passport.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said earlier this week that a first prosecution for FGM could come “relatively shortly”, with at least one case offering a “possibility” of charges.
Those comments are thought to relate to the case of an older victim, reports suggest, but could mean there is nonetheless hope for a landmark case even if the one associated with today’s arrests falls through.
Last week, The Independent’s Tess Finch-Lees wrote about how the UK’s approach to genital mutilation isn’t working. It is estimated that more than 20,000 girls in Britain are at risk of FGM.