Re M (female genital mutilation protection order: no order on application)

Family proceedings – Orders in family proceedings. Female genital mutilation (FGM) of girls under 18 was child abuse and, if attributable to parental behaviour, would comfortably fall within s 31(2) of the Children Act 1989, as being significant physical harm which would justify the making of a public law order. In deciding whether to make an FGM protection order under Sch 2 to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, the court had to have regard to all the circumstances. When viewed through the prism of art 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the health, safety, and well-being of the girl to be protected was the court's paramount consideration and the state was required to do that which was reasonable, in all the circumstances, to protect her from real and immediate risk of harm. The Family Division so ruled in circumstances where the applicant local authority, having previously been granted an out-of-hours FGM protection order in respect of an eight-year-old child (M), on a without notice application, later sought no order on its application. The court held that, on the facts, an FGM protection order was neither necessary, nor proportionate, where the risks to M had altered since the commencement of the proceedings. However, the court noted that, had the evidence been otherwise, it would have had no hesitation in making an FGM protection order until M reached the age of 18.

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