A judge has ordered that an eight-year-old girl from south London be interviewed by police over concerns she was taken to Somalia by her mother to undergo female genital mutilation.
Metropolitan Police officers suspect the child was not actually cut because of intervention by authorities in the UK who urgently demanded her mother bring her home, the High Court’s Family Division heard today.
The 49-year-old says she and her daughter were visiting a sick grandmother and she had no intention to allow FGM on her child.
With her husband acting as an interpreter, she told the court: “I would never agree to FGM. I don’t believe in it.”
The Metropolitan Police say the mother was found with a bag of medicine and ceremonial robes when she was arrested at Heathrow Airport on a flight from Nairobi, Kenya, at 5am on Wednesday.
Earlier this month a High Court order was obtained for the child’s return after a south London school raised concerns that one of its pupils had failed to attend school and was being taken to Somalia.
The 45-year-old father, who had remained in this country, was also arrested at the airport.
An application for an FGM prevention order had been made by local authorities.
Both parents were taken into custody at a south London police station on suspicion of helping a foreign national to commit FGM overseas, and later released on bail.
Their daughter is temporarily in protective care arranged by the Metropolitan Police.
Both police and parents appeared before family judge Mrs Justice Hogg on Thursday to decide on how the case should proceed.
Zimran Samuel, for the police, told the judge: “Concerns originally arose through the school which indicated a child had told school friends she might be away for some three months from her eighth birthday, the age when it is normal for girls in the Somali community to be cut.”
Mr Samuel said decisions would now have to be made on whether the girl should be placed in local authority care pending further court hearings, or allowed to return to her parents.
He said the police wished to take stock and interview the girl before putting a further statement before the court later this month. The parents, who had so far given “no comment” interviews, would also have the opportunity to respond.
Additional reporting by PA