This case represented the first trial and conviction for female genital mutilation in Ireland. The accused were originally from a French-speaking African country, and were charged and convicted with female genital mutilation and neglect of their daughter in relation to the same incident. At the time of the offence, the girl was under two years old, and her injuries were discovered when her parents brought her to the Accident and Emergency Department of an Irish hospital due to uncontrollable bleeding. Following their conviction, the victim’s parents were sentenced to an unspecified number of years imprisonment for the female genital mutilation and neglect, the sentences running concurrently. They appealed their convictions, claiming that they had not received a fair trial because (i) they did not have the opportunity to present ‘appropriate’ expert evidence and (ii) the translation of H.M.’s testimony before the jury was inaccurate. The Court of Appeal quashed the appellants’ convictions on the second ground, finding that their trial was unsafe and unsatisfactory for not having complied with either the spirit or the substance of the European Union’s Interpretation and Translation Directive, which provides for the rights to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. Thus, according to the court, the appellants were unable to properly exercise their right of defence. Following the judgment, the DPP requested a retrial, which was not opposed by the appellants.
Women and Justice: Keywords
Director of Public Prosecutions v H.M. and B.O. Court of Appeal of Ireland (2021)
SVFB v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2004)
A citizen of Nigeria sought protection for fear that she would be subject to female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found that female genital mutilation constitutes serious harm amounting to persecution, but that on the facts, there was no real risk that the applicant would be subjected to female genital mutilation.
VWFG v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2005)
A citizen of Ghana sought protection for fear that she would be subject to arranged marriage and female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found the applicant to be not credible, in part because she could not identify the ethnic group that the proposed husband came from. The court found these factual conclusions satisfactory and affirmed.
Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the State Secretary of Justice District Court of the Hague (2008)
The government had denied three of the claimant’s applications for residence under the Aliens Act 2000. The appeal stemmed from the dispute about whether the claimant’s minor daughter was at risk for inhuman treatment (specifically, FGM) in Chad under the European Convention on Human Rights. The claimant argued that her daughter was, as a Hadjarai woman, “very strongly” at risk of FGM, and she herself had been circumcised. The government denied that FGM is a matter of tradition, ethnicity, and religion and claimed that the claimant’s story was inconsistent with what was known about FGM in Chad. The District Court found that the government’s decision was subject to review referring to a U.S. Department of State report that stated that though violence against women and FGM were prohibited by law in Chad, FGM was widespread, deeply rooted in tradition and rarely prosecuted. Further, 93% of Hadjarari women were circumcised. The District Court ordered the government to decide the claimant’s application in light of the Court’s findings.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 restated and amended the law prohibiting female genital mutilation, and further prohibits assistance in mutilation, failing to protect a girl from risk of mutilation, and assistance in transporting girls overseas for the purpose of female genital mutilation. It establishes a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Human Rights Watch report on female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Collins and Akaziebie v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2007)
The first applicant, the mother, filed for asylum upon arriving in Sweden, claiming she had fled Nigeria while pregnant with her daughter, the second applicant, in an attempt to flee the female-genital mutilation ("FGM") that would have been performed on her during childbirth if she stayed in Nigeria. The Swedish Migration Board rejected the asylum application, explaining that FGM was not grounds for asylum, and that FGM was outlawed by Nigerian law so it was unlikely the first applicant would be submitted to the procedure upon return to Nigeria. The Swedish Aliens Appeal Board rejected the applicant's appeal, rejecting her argument that FGM was a deep-rooted Nigerian tradition, carried out despite modern law. Following several more attempts within Sweden to be granted asylum, the applicants filed a complaint with the ECHR, alleging that if they were returned to Nigeria, they would face a high likelihood of being submitted to FGM. The argued this would violate Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECHR rejected the complaint, ruling that the applicants had failed to "substantiate that they would face a real and concrete risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation upon returning to Nigeria.