Legislation Against Female Genital Mutilation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:56 pm on 11th February 2019.

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Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 4:56 pm, 11th February 2019

The hon. Lady cares deeply about protecting vulnerable people, and I am pleased to have met her to discuss a number of matters in the family justice sphere. She makes a number of important points.

It is essential to protect women and girls, and since 2015, the Government have introduced a number of measures to ensure that they are protected. As I have said, the Bill will be dealt with in Government time, but let me clarify what it does. It is not the case that without it, women and girls do not have protection; we introduced protections in 2015. What the Bill will do is enable a judge to make a care order during the same proceedings.

The hon. Lady makes another important point about the number of protection orders. She said that more than 200 had been issued since September. In fact, the number has gone up to 296; so just under 300 protection orders have been granted since their introduction at the end of September 2018.

I want to make a final point because a number of Members rightly identified that not enough prosecutions are successful, and this is a very important point that we must tackle. We are tackling it in a number of ways, through funding for education and through the bringing of legislation, but these are very difficult cases to prosecute for a number of reasons: cultural taboos, lack of information from affected communities and the fact that the age of the vulnerable girls might prevent them from coming forward. The issue we have in this country is not isolated; there is a very low prosecution rate for these kinds of offences across Europe, but this Government are committed to doing whatever we can to protect these girls further from this terrible crime.