Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:46 am on 20th July 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Flather Baroness Flather Crossbench 11:46 am, 20th July 2018

My Lords, I have very little to add to what has already been said today. I have come mainly to listen, because I was not aware that care orders could not be made at the same time or that nobody else could bring anything forward. If we can bring this amendment together with everything else, it cannot be anything but the right way. I have no problem with that at all.

I have known about FGM for a very long time. Since we first became aware of it, all of us have been horrified by its effect on women. How is it possible that it is still going on and is so prevalent in some countries? We know that it is only Muslims who practise this, and it has spread across Islamic countries and all over Africa. It happens also in Bangladesh. It is a really bad thing but it is very difficult to stop, because nobody will come forward to say, “This happened to me—please do something about it”. Unless somebody can come forward to say that they have been a victim, it is extremely difficult to bring a case. I hope that, sooner or later, we will get to that point and cases will be brought.

I want to add one point that is not usually mentioned. If a girl has been cut—as they say nowadays—she can claim a higher bride price and her family will get more money. As noble Lords will know, in the Muslim system the man’s family pays for the girl. I feel that that is quite an important factor: if you are very poor, it may make a difference as to whether you get so much money or you get double that. Noble Lords should bear that in mind when they think about FGM.

There is nothing more to be said other than that it is a horrible and horrifying practice.