UCL Institute for Human Rights


UCL Graduate Law Society Submission to Home Affairs Committee Inquiry on FGM

9 July 2014

This year the UCL Graduate Law Society launched a project to give students an opportunity to make submissions to parliamentary inquiries under guidance from Faculty Advisor Colm O'Cinneide

In particular, the project seeks to contribute a unique perspective to UK law reform debates from a comparative point of view, exploiting the diversity of nationalities in the LLM cohort. 

Late last year the Home Affairs Committee initiated an inquiry into FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) to address the perceived deficiencies in current protection mechanisms for women and girls at risk of FGM in the UK. The committee identified specifically that in 28 years of having specialised FGM criminal law there had not been one successful prosecution under the laws. 

The UCL Graduate Law Society submission to the inquiry recognised France as a country which has had more success in prosecuting FGM-related crimes, achieved primarily through mandatory medical checks, but cautioned against emulating French mandatory checks, identifying human rights-based concerns of such an approach [paras 4.6-4.7]. The Home Affairs Committee in their report similarly made the comparison to French law and practice, in reliance to some degree on our French-language research [footnotes 49, 51, 53 and 165]. While it ultimately considered the French prosecution success a 'good example', the report reflected our call for caution in respect of mandatory checks, describing the introduction of a universal system of examinations in the UK as 'a disproportionate response' [para 37]. The Committee otherwise emphasised the need for greater education and effort across all of the public sector in identifying and protecting those most at risk.

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