Elizabeth Taylor & Phillip Taylor MBE
Richmond Green Chambers
FGM has long been ignored by many people but fortunately we are beginning to see changes as the issue rises up the legal agenda. So we have a recent book from LexisNexis/Family Law entitled Female Genital Mutilation which covers one of the most serious offences in English criminal law.
This book has been written by one of the foremost legal experts in the field: Zimran Samuel of Doughty Street Chambers and a visiting fellow at the LSE. His mission is to offer a single point of reference for all those dealing with this disgusting crime now widely recognised both domestically and internationally as child abuse and a serious human rights violation.
Before you do anything else with this book, read the foreword written by Keehan J which sets the scene as the campaign continues to stop the practice. However, as becomes obvious from the book, it remains a practice shrouded in secrecy and one which all too often has escaped the reaches of the child protection system.
The position is very clear for today, it’s vital in order to prevent FGM that all relevant professionals have a clear understanding of the socio-cultural reasons for the practice. In addition, the factors which may indicate a girl or young woman may be at real risk of being forced to undergo FGM require to be better understood together with the effective preventative legal steps which require to be taken.
Some members of the public may take issue with Keehan’s suggestion that a proactive stance has been taken by the authorities with the introduction of FGM Protection Orders. The point at present is that the issue is not significantly high enough on the legal agenda whilst more victims in this jurisdiction suffer. It is apparent to us that Samuel’s definitive work on FGM will explain and educate what is really happening at present both here in UK and abroad.
Without any doubt, it remains a specialist title which has been produced in close consultation with survivors of FGM and is still a taboo subject for many. The author has researched the material from front line practitioners across a spectrum of disciplines to give us an authoritative statement on the law.
Samuel provides us here with a comprehensive and readily accessible guide to all of these matters. His task is rightly set within human rights jurisprudence. He reviews the key legal developments and debates across international law, family law, immigration and the criminal law so the work will be of great assistance to a very wide readership and should be on many differing academic reading lists, not just legal ones.
We consider that the book provides what we want 'an invaluable guide to what is a complex and sensitive topic for judges, lawyers, social workers, teachers, midwives, and other related professionals'.
There remains this particular taboo about the subject which needs massive and urgent international education, especially in those cultures who see nothing wrong with this barbarism. Samuel and others do see it and we hope this book increases such awareness as a matter of urgency.