March 19, 2018 / 3:16 PM / 8 months ago

London lawyer denies forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A London solicitor accused of forcing his eldest daughter to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) denied on Monday that he had arranged for anyone to cut her, saying he loved his children and would never hurt them.

The girl, now 16, told police that when she was younger her father had arranged for someone to cut her with a razorblade in the hallway of the family home as “a form of punishment”.

She was cut again in similar circumstances some time after the wound had healed, the Central Criminal Court heard.

When prosecutor Mark Heywood suggested to the defendant that he had watched as someone cut his daughter, he replied: “God forbid!... Why would I organize to cut my daughter?”

FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985, but there has not been a successful prosecution.

The 50-year-old lawyer, who is originally from West Africa and was described in court as a devout Catholic, said FGM did not happen in his community and he had never witnessed it.

“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” said the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

A medical expert who examined the girl last year found marks on her genitalia, but could not say how old they were.

In highly emotional testimony, the defendant said the allegations were fabrications arising from the acrimonious breakdown of his marriage.

“I need to know who cut my daughter! It’s not me!” he told the jury.

“I don’t know who cut my daughter. I didn’t organize it. I was not part of it.”

The defendant denies two charges of FGM, two alternative charges of wounding with intent, and three counts of child cruelty between 2009 and 2016, relating to his treatment of his daughter and two of her siblings.

The defendant described allegations by his daughter that he hit her with a cane and threatened her with an iron as the “height of fabrication”.

He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him during their marriage and had turned his children against him.

His voice breaking, he said the allegations were meant to “put me away for a long time”.

“I want the court to help me! I did not abuse my children!” he said gesticulating. “I would give my life for my children! I love them!”

The children’s former nanny told the court the defendant adored his children, and said she had never seen any ill-treatment.

The case is continuing.

Reporting by Emma Batha; Editing by Robert Carmichael. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.

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