Britain arrests two in suspected female genital mutilation case

LONDON Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:15pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - British police have arrested two people in London on suspicion of conspiracy to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM) and placed a young girl in the care of social services, a police statement said on Saturday.

The arrests followed the arrival at the capital's Heathrow airport on Friday morning from Kampala of a 72-year-old Ugandan man accompanied by an 11-year-old girl, the statement said.

They came only days after London hosted a one-day summit on FGM and forced marriage where the government announced it would earmark 1.4 million pounds ($2.4 million) for a prevention programme and prosecute parents allowing the practice.

The man was arrested in Newham, east London, on Saturday and a 40-year-old woman was also arrested in Hackney, northeast London, it said. Both remain in police custody.

The statement did not say whether the girl had undergone FGM in Uganda. Immigrant families sometimes take girls back to their home countries for FGM, the partial or total removal of external female genitalia to suppress sexual desire and prevent what their traditional societies see as immoral behaviour.

"With concerns for her welfare, specialist officers took the girl - a UK national - into the care of social services," the statement said.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 made it illegal to participate in any sort of arrangement for FGM to be performed on another, either in or outside of Britain.

At the "Girl Summit" on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said 21 countries had signed an international charter to eradicate both practices and urged other countries to join them.

About 103,000 women aged between 15 and 49, as well as 10,000 girls under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales, are estimated to have undergone FGM, according to a report from City University London.

Worldwide, more than 130 million girls and women have undergone FGM are more than 700 million women alive today were children when they were married.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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