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United Kingdom: Enforcement of Female Circumcision Laws

(July 2, 2008) The British police are reportedly increasing checks on flights leaving for nations that are known to continue the practice of female circumcision. This practice was made unlawful in the United Kingdom in 1985, through the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act. There were no prosecutions under this Act, and in response to concerns that the law was not being enforced and to close certain loopholes, a new law was passed, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. This Act expanded the scope of the 1985 Act and enables the prosecution of individuals who perform, aid, abet, counsel, or procure a person to perform female circumcision outside of the United Kingdom on UK nationals or residents. The law has reportedly had no prosecutions since it came into force, and the checks on the departing flights are intended to raise the profile of the law and prevent girls from being taken out of the country for the procedure. (Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, c. 31, available at (official source); Brian Brady, Female Circumcision, THE INDEPENDENT (London), June 22, 2008, available at